SII CEO says vaccine drive in India cannot be over in 2-3 months
The Serum Institute of India CEO, Adar Poonawalla, has said his company is constantly scaling up the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines and prioritising India. Responding to the government’s criticism and the company’s decision to export vaccines, Poonawalla said they had never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and would continue to support the vaccination drive in the country.
SII has delivered more than 200 million doses even though they received Emergency Use Authorisation two months after the US pharma companies, and the company ranked in top three in the world in terms of doses produced and delivered, Poonawalla said.
He said being one of the two most populous countries in the world, such a vaccination drive could not be completed within two to three months in India. “It would take two to three years for the entire world population to get fully vaccinated,” Poonawalla said.
In January 2021, SII had a large stockpile of doses and the vaccination drive started when the number of daily cases recorded was among the lowest, he said. At that stage, health experts believed that India was turning the tide on the pandemic. Around the same time, many countries in the world were facing an acute crisis and were in desperate need of help, so the government extended support wherever possible during the period, he said.
“The pandemic was not limited by geography or political boundaries and nobody could be safe until everyone globally was able to defeat the virus,” the SII CEO said. As they were part of the global alliance, they had commitments to COVAX so they had to distribute vaccines around the world.
Poonawalla hoped to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year. Co-operation among countries formed the basis for SII getting access to technology and aid for healthcare, he pointed out.