Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of the Serum Institute of India (SII), on Friday termed the ban on Covid-19 vaccine exports imposed by the Centre a “very bad move”, saying it put his company, the world's largest vaccine-maker, in a difficult situation. He also said that his son Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the SII which makes the Covishield vaccine, had asked him not to speak about the issue. “It is a very bad move by the Modi government. My son asked me not to open my mouth. But it is my view that exports ought to be opened,” Poonawalla said here.
Over 150 countries are dependent on the SII for vaccines and are blaming the company for stopping the supply during a crucial period, he said. These countries have paid “crores in advance” to the company, Cyrus Poonawalla said, adding that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Health Organisation (WHO) have also given it Rs 5,000 crore.
He also said that the ideal gap between two doses of Covishield was two months and another dose of the vaccine should be taken after six months. Asked about a report in the medical journal Lancet that antibodies against coronavirus created by Covishield decrease after some time, Poonawalla said that it was true that the antibodies decrease, but “memory cells” remain.
“After six months, the antibodies go down and that is why I have taken the third dose. We have given the third dose to our seven to eight thousand SII employees. For those who have completed the second dose, it is my request to take a booster dose (third dose) after six months,” he said.
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