The Serum Institute – manufacturers of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine – has supplied over 15 crore doses to the Indian government and has received an advance for the next lot of 11 crore doses, which will be delivered in the next few months, CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted Monday.
A further 11 crore doses will be supplied to state government and private hospitals – in accordance with the centre’s new “liberalised” vaccination policy – within the next few months as well, he said.
Mr Poonawalla’s statement was part of a concerted pushback from the centre and SII against media reports alleging the centre has yet to place fresh orders for COVID-19 vaccine doses.
“As of today, we received total orders of over 26 crore doses, of which we supplied more than 15 crore doses. We have also got 100 per cent advance of Rs 1,732.50 crore by GoI for the next tranche of 11 crore doses in the next few months,” Mr Poonawalla said.
“Another 11 crore doses… for states and private hospitals in the next few months,” he added.
Amongst multiple reports it is important that correct information be shared with the public. pic.twitter.com/nzyOZwVBxH
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) May 3, 2021
Hours earlier the centre put out a statement that said such reports were “completely incorrect”.
“… media reports alleging the centre has not placed any fresh order for COVID-19 vaccines. The news reports suggest the last order… 100 million doses with SII and 20 million with Bharat Biotech… was in March 2021. These media reports are completely incorrect,” the statement said.
The Serum Institute responded with a tweet that said: “We endorse this statement…”
On Saturday Mr Poonawalla – who spoke to British newspaper The Times about threats from “some of the most powerful men in India” – said he was facing pressure to scale up production.
The Serum Institute – the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume – is widely viewed as a key global player in the fight against the coronavirus, with contracts to supply dozens of countries; India, though, has priority on that list of customers.
It produces around 70 million doses of Covishield per month, but there is pressure to substantially increase that number as India battles a fresh wave of cases and scrambles to vaccinate people.
“… vaccine manufacturing is a specialised process… not possible to ramp up production overnight. We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task,” he said.
India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3.5 lakh daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.