Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the SII facility in Pune
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the SII facility in Pune
Photo: ANI

Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said that officials at the institute, him included, were "amazed" to find Prime Minister Narendra Modi "extremely knowledgable" now on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and that he already knew of details more than what they expected.

"The Prime Minister is extremely knowledgable now on vaccines and vaccine production. We were amazed at what he already knew. There was very little to explain to him, except for going into detail on different variable vaccines and the challenges that they may face ahead," Serum Institute's CEO said.

Modi visited Serum Institute of India on Saturday and interacted with the team at the Institute. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing.

Vaccine major Serum Institute of India on Saturday said it was a special day for the company with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting its facility in Pune to go into details on the manufacturing status of the coronavirus vaccine.

At the facility, Modi was received by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Poonwalla Group, and his son and SII CEO Adar Poonawalla. They briefed Modi about the work being carried out at SII.

Addressing a virtual presser, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said, "We discussed the plan, the implementation plan which will happen only after the emergency use licence, that is granted based on the data that will have to be submitted. We are in the process of submitting that officially to the Drug Controller of India in the next two weeks."

"Worldwide everybody is now dependent and is looking forward to the vaccines coming out in large volumes and at an affordable price from India as everybody already knows that more than 50-60% of all vaccines are made in India."

"With the Aatmanirbhar Bharat vision in mind we have built the largest pandemic level facility in Pune in our sister campus at Manjri", and that was showcased also to the prime minister, he added.

Covishield is the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the Oxford University, and is currently being tested and developed by the SII in India as one of the frontrunners in the global vaccine race.

The vaccine has shown 70% efficacy in its interim analysis and Poonawalla had earlier said that the shot is likely to be ready by the end of December this year.

(With inputs from agencies)

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