SII CEO Poonawalla lauds Modi, Sitharaman for boost to vaccine production

Updated on Apr 20, 2021 01:00 PM IST

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, the manufacturer of Covishield, said the ‘decisive policy changes’ and ‘swift financial aid’ by the Centre to help the vaccine-makers will help ramp up Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution in India.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India Ltd., at the company's Hadapsar plant in Pune, Maharashtra. (Bloomberg)
Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India Ltd., at the company's Hadapsar plant in Pune, Maharashtra. (Bloomberg)
By | Written by Avik Roy, New Delhi

Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for what he called a ‘decisive policy changes’ and ‘swift financial aid’ to help Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution in India.

The Pune-based SII is manufacturing the vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca as Covishield.

Poonawalla’s tweet followed hours after the Union finance ministry approved 4,567 crore for SII and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which produces indigenously developed Covaxin, on Monday to boost the capacity of Covid-19 vaccine production in India as the country faces a second wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Both the vaccines have been instrumental in India’s vaccination drive and also were the first two vaccines approved by the government for the vaccination drive which began in January.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a meeting where it was decided to allow vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 from May 1. Modi said the Centre has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of people are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time.

“India is vaccinating people at world record pace and we will continue this with even greater momentum,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the meeting where the decision to vaccinate all adults in the country was taken.

ALSO READ: What changes from May 1 in Covid-19 vaccination drive? FAQs answered

Last week, Poonawalla had urged the United States to lift export ban from critical raw materials required for the production of vaccines against the coronavirus disease.

The long list of raw materials that SII imports from the US include filters, bags, and adjuvant. Large, sterile plastic bags are used to grow vaccine cells. An adjuvant is a substance that is used to increase the efficacy of a vaccine and helps the immune system generate antibodies.

The United States in February invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the power to control the distribution of products, to curb the export of raw materials critical for vaccine production.

India recently approved Russian made Sputnik V and is also planning to approve vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

ALSO READ: India to waive import duty on Covid-19 vaccines

India set the milestone of vaccinating more than 126 million people in a period of 92 days. India has vaccinated more than 3.1 million people on Monday, according to data released by the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

India’s Covid-19 tally breached the 15.3 million-mark with 259,170 fresh cases and 1,761 fatalities, the biggest daily spike, recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures released by the Union ministry of health and family welfare on Tuesday morning.

This is the sixth day in a row that the country’s daily infection caseload has surpassed 200,000, however, the figure is slightly lower than on Monday, when the one-day tally was 273,810.

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