Adar Poonawalla is the only official spokesperson, Serum Institute says after executive director criticises govt
Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla is the only official spokesperson of the company, the world's largest vaccine maker has clarified after its executive director Suresh Jadhav was found to be a little critical of the government's vaccination drive. Speaking at an online health summit, Jadhav said the government began vaccinating people from multiple age groups without taking into account the availability of stocks. He also said that the government did not consider WHO guidelines, as reported by news agency PTI.
Serum Institute has made it clear that this is not the view of the company. "On behalf of our CEO Adar C Poonawalla, I want to inform you that this statement is not issued on behalf of Serum Institute of India Private Limited and the Company completely dissociates itself from this statement. It is reiterated that this is not the view of the company at all," Prakash Kumar Singh, director of government and regulatory affairs at Serum wrote in a letter to the health ministry, PTI reported.
It also mentioned that Adar Poonawalla is the only official spokesperson of the company.
"Serum is committed to maximise its Covishield production and it stands shoulder-to-shoulder to strengthen the government's fight against Covid-19," the letter said.
Jadhav said the government started the vaccination drive knowing well that it did not have adequate stock. Initially, 300 million people were to be administered the vaccine for which 600 million doses were required, but before that target was reached, the vaccination drive was opened to non-priority groups, including people above the age of 45 years and then people above the age of 18 years, he said. "That is the greatest lesson we learnt. We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously," he said.
The government in April approved advanced payment of ₹4,500 crore to both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech so that they can ramp up their production. Out of this ₹4,500 crore, Serum received ₹3,000 crore from which Adar Poonawalla thanks PM Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Serum Institute has been the centre of several controversies in recent days. After the Centre allowed state governments and private hospitals to directly procure vaccines from the manufacturers, Serum courted controversies over selling the vaccines at different rates to the Centre and the state governments. After the rates were revised, Adar Poonawalla said in an interview he was under immense pressure and was facing unprecedented aggression over the vaccine.
(With agency inputs)