Please be patient: SII’s Poonawalla asks nations waiting for Covishield supplies

Updated on Feb 21, 2021 12:03 PM IST

Till February 8, India has exported Covid-19 vaccines worth ₹338 crore, Union minister Piyush Goyal had informed Parliament during the Budget Session earlier this month.

Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India.(Reuters)
Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India.(Reuters)
By | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla on Sunday "humbly requested" other countries to be patient as the world’s largest vaccine producer works towards supplying Covishield, the SII-manufactured and Oxford University-AstraZeneca developed Covid-19 shot, to the rest of the world. “Dear countries & governments, as you await #COVISHIELD supplies, I humbly request you to please be patient, @SerumInstIndia has been directed to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best,” Poonawalla said in a tweet.

Poonawalla had assured the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on February 15 that SII is working towards catering to the vaccination needs of the North American nation. He said, “Dear Hon'ble PM @JustinTrudeau, I thank you for your warm words towards India and its vaccine industry. As we await regulatory approvals from Canada, I assure you,@SerumInstIndia will fly out #Covishield to Canada in less than a month; I'm on it!”

India had sent 870,000 vaccines manufactured by the Pune-based company to Mexico on February 14. After receiving the delivery of the vaccines, Mexico thanked the Indian government. Union minister for external affairs S Jaishankar said that the supply of vaccines under the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme to the Latin American nation expresses the cordial relationship between India and Mexico. “Expressing our Amistad. Mexico receives Made in India vaccines,” Jaishankar tweeted last Sunday.

South Africa also received a million doses of the SII-made vaccine earlier this month. The Maldives on Saturday was the latest to receive an additional consignment of the Covishield vaccine. The island-nation received 100,000 additional doses of Covishield during an event that was hosted by the Maldivian government and was attended by Jaishankar. The Maldives had earlier received 100,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine.

Being one of the world’s largest drug manufacturers, India has been approached by an increasing number of nations for procuring the coronavirus vaccines. The government under the Vaccine Maitri initiative has sent consignments of Covid-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles. It will also send vaccines under commercial agreements to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco along with other nations.

Till February 8, India has exported Covid-19 vaccines worth 338 crore, Union minister Piyush Goyal had informed Parliament during the Budget Session earlier this month, according to a report by news agency PTI. “India is taking care of the domestic vaccine requirement first and based on that giving vaccines to friendly countries. Total export is about 338 crore worth of COVID vaccine,” Goyal had said in the Rajya Sabha.

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