'Serum Institute produces 90 million Covishield doses a month': CEO Adar Poonawalla amid reports of vaccine shortage
Serum Institute of India was able to produce 70 million doses of its coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine Covishield in the month of March, while production was ramped up to 90 million doses a month in June, the company's CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Wednesday, amid reports of a nationwide vaccine shortage. The vaccine manufacturer is looking to add an additional 10% to its output by August, he informed, adding that the company is also confident of receiving European Medicines Agency (EMA)'s approval for its Covid-19 vaccine.
This comes after several states and Union territories -- including Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi -- flagged a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines earlier this week amid the inoculation drive. The reported shortage of vaccines has also led to flash protests being held across Tamil Nadu, while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has called off its vaccine drive on Thursday over a supply shortage.
Addressing at India Global Forum 2021, Poonawalla said that the central government exported around six crore Covid-19 vaccine doses between January to February, probably the highest in the world. It was then that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic struck and the focus of the inoculation drive shifted on the population back home, he said, adding that things have not yet gone so wrong that there would be no way forward.
Serum Institute is also confident of receiving EMA approval for its Covishield vaccine within a month, Poonawalla said. "There is no reason why not to because it is based on AstraZeneca data and our product is identical to AstraZeneca more or less and it has been approved by WHO, UK MHRA. So it's just a matter of time. It is not really going to hinder anything," the SII chief added.
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This comes after reports that travellers vaccinated with Covishield, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine manufactured in India by the SII, may not be eligible for the European Union's 'Green Pass'. Covishield is one of the three Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in India.
(With inputs from ANI)