Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla, on Friday, urged the United States of America President Joe Biden to lift its embargo on raw material exports to help ramp up the production of COVID-19 vaccines. In a tweet, he said, “Respected @POTUS, if we are truly united in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can be ramped up. Your administration has the details.”
SII is currently producing COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, which is developed by Astrazeneca and Oxford University. It is being used all over India and also exported to a number of countries. SII has already delivered over 100 million doses to India and exported around 60 million doses to other countries.
Earlier, Poonawalla had clearly said that SII has been facing difficulties in sending out the required number of batches of vaccines due to bureaucratic and government-related hurdles. His request came days after he had sought a Rs 3,000 crore grant from the Government of India to increase the capacity of Covishield vaccine production beyond 100 million doses a month that it plans to achieve by the end of May. SII has indicated that it hopes to increase its capacity of Covishield production to 110 million doses per month June onwards.
Poonawala had hinted that the company may explore other options, including bank loans and advances against supplie,s if the government wasn’t able to give a grant.
SII is also making Novovax’s Covovax and the world’s largest vaccine maker hopes to launch it by September. However, in view of the US curbs on the export of raw materials, the production of Covovax may be reduced.
Further, SII is also in talks for a tie up with Russian company, RIDF, to make the Sputnik vaccine and was expecting it to take a month or two to happen.