Covishield Production In Full Swing, Will Return To India In Few Days, Says SII’s Adar Poonawalla From London
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Covishield Production In Full Swing, Will Return To India In Few Days, Says SII’s Adar Poonawalla From London

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Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said he will return to India from London in a few days.

Speaking about the pressures he was under over the production of Covid-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India, Adar Poonawalla posted a midnight tweet that he will return to India in a few days.

“Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the UK. Meanwhile, pleased to state that Covishield’s production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days,” Adar Poonawalla wrote on Twitter. Coronavirus Live Updates

Aadar Poonawalla also added that the production of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield is in full swing in Pune and he will review the operations once he is back in the country.

Why Is Serum Institute CEO In London? Adar Poonawalla Answers

In an interview with ‘The Times’, Adar Poonawalla talked about receiving aggressive calls from some of the most powerful people in India, demanding supplies of Covishield — the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the Serum Institute is producing in India.

That pressure was largely behind his decision to fly into London to be with his wife and children, the 40-year-old entrepreneur had said in the interview on Saturday.

“I’m staying here [London] for an extended time because I don’t want to go back to that situation. Everything falls on my shoulders but I can’t do it alone…I don’t want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don’t want to guess what they are going to do,” Poonawalla had told the newspaper.

Last week, Adar Poonawalla was accorded ‘Y’ category security in view of “potential threats” to the businessman.

“The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why anyone else should get it before them,” Poonawalla had said.

The businessman had indicated in the interview that his move to London is also linked to business plans to expand vaccine manufacturing to countries outside India, which may include the likes of the UK.

“There’s going to be an announcement in the next few days,” Adar Poonawalla had said when asked about Britain as one of the production bases outside India.

‘Really Grasping For All The Help We Can Get’

According to the newspaper, by the time the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved in January this year, the Serum Institute of India (SII) had increased its annual production capacity from 1.5 to 2.5 billion doses at a cost of USD 800 million, and stockpiled 50 million doses of Covishield.

The company began exporting to 68 countries, including Britain, as India seemed to have been over the worse, until the situation worsened in recent weeks.

“We’re really grasping for all the help we can get,” Poonawalla had said in the interview. “I don’t think even God could have forecast it was going to get this bad,” Adar had said.

India rolled out the third phase of its Covid-19 vaccination drive for those in the age group of 18-45 years on Saturday though the inoculation process failed to take off in some states due to shortage of vaccines.

Last week, SII announced a cut in price of the jab it plans to sell to states to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400. The price cut came after a widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it had sold the initial doses of Covishield to the central government at Rs 150 per dose. Covishield is the most used COVID-19 vaccine in India. It along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is being used by the government for vaccination in the country.

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