Serum Institute's Adar Poonawalla to get Y category security across India
Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla will get Y category security across India, the ministry of home affairs notified on Wednesday. The security category generally comprises 11 personnel, including one or two commandoes and police personnel.
The move comes ahead of the third phase of the vaccination scheduled to begin from May 1. Pune's Serum Institute of India, which is the largest vaccine producer in the country by the number of doses produced in a year, is one of the lynchpins in India's expansion of the vaccination drive. Apart from SII's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is the other vaccine to be made available in the private market.
The Central Reserve Police Force will provide him with security and it will be applicable across India, wherever he travels.
On April 16, the director of SII, Prakash Kumar Singh, wrote to the ministry seeking security for Adar Poonawalla. In his letter, Singh mentioned that Poonawalla was getting threats from various people regarding the supply of Covid-19 vaccines. "We are working shoulder-to-shoulder to fight against Covid-19 pandemic with the government of India under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji," the letter said.
In the past few days, Poonawalla has received flak for "profiteering" as his vaccine company was offering one dose of Covishield to the Centre at ₹150, while charging ₹400 from the state governments. On Wednesday, after the Centre opened registration for vaccination of people between the age group of 18 and 44 years, Poonawalla announced a reduction in the price as he slashed the price by ₹100. Instead of ₹400 per dose, states will now have to pay ₹300 per dose of Covishield. However, the reduction is not fully assuaging the concerns of the state governments as the difference between the prices still remains.
"As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of Serum Institute of India, I hereby reduce the price to the states from ₹400 to ₹300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives," Poonawalla tweeted.