Pune 3rd May 2021: Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), said that the country could face a shortage of vaccines for the next few months. He said that the capacity to manufacture 100 million vaccines is not going to increase before July.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said he had not previously expanded capacity due to a lack of orders. Due to this, the crisis of vaccine shortage will continue till July. “There was no order. We didn’t think we needed to make more than 100 million doses a year,” he said. He also said officials did not expect a second wave in January. “Everyone was feeling that the epidemic in India was on the verge of ending,” he added.
No Corona vaccination for people above 45 years on May 3. Only registered people from 18-44 years age group will get the vaccine at two centres: Mayor Murlidhar Mohol@PMCPune #COVID19Vaccine #VaccineFor18Plus pic.twitter.com/hRl9StrXsY
— Punekar News (@punekarnews) May 2, 2021
Last month, the central government gave an advance of Rs 3,000 crore to the Serum Institute to facilitate capacity expansion. For the first time in India, new cases crossed 400,000 on Friday.
The Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer produces the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is distributed locally under the Covishield brand name. The central government has so far bought its entire production, but earlier this month, states and private hospitals have also been allowed to buy the vaccine.
The government has started a vaccination campaign for all people above the age of 18 from May 1. However, due to the lack of vaccines, it may not be effective at the moment. On May 1, only 1.8 million people were vaccinated. About 160 million people in India have been vaccinated so far. This is just 12 percent of the country’s population. However, the number of people taking the second dose is very low. That’s just two percent.
Poonawalla said politicians and critics have blamed SII for the lack of vaccines, but the vaccine policy was formulated by the government.
The vaccination campaign in India started on January 16. The central government had initially ordered 2.1 crore vaccines from SII. An additional 110 million doses were ordered in March when cases began to escalate. The company has also been criticized for charging more from states and private hospitals for the expanded vaccination campaign. Serum later reduced the price paid by state governments from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose.