January 28, 2023

‘Lift embargo on vaccine raw material exports’: SII’s Poonawalla requests US President Biden

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At present, India is immunising all frontline workers, people with co-morbidities and all others above 45 years of age with either of two vaccines — SII’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

As Covid-19 cases in India continue to rise steadily, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Friday appealed to US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of raw materials needed to manufacture vaccines out of the United States so that vaccine production can be fast-tracked.

Tagging Biden on Twitter, Poonawalla wrote, “Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.”

In an interview to NDTV tweeted by the channel earlier this month, Poonawalla had said SII, that is manufacturing Covishield, would require around Rs 3,000 crore to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccine production capacity. “We need roughly Rs 3,000 crores which is not a small figure considering we have already spent thousands of crores. We have to find other innovative ways to build our capacity so we can support our nation in light of Covid surge,” he said, adding that the vaccine industry has sacrificed millions of dollars to support the nation.

The company currently has the capacity to produce 60 to 70 million doses per month, he said.

At present, India is immunising frontline workers, people with co-morbidities and all others above 45 years of age with either of two vaccines — SII’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Apart from this, clinical trials of SII’s Covovax have also begun and the company plans to launch it by September this year.