Covishield production likely to be halved; Adar Poonawalla says he's in a dilemma
Serum Institute of India may halve its vaccine production at a time when new variant of SARA-CoV-2 Omicron is spreading fast in India, reports said quoting CEO Adar Poonawalla. In an interview, Poonawalla said they do not have enough government orders for Covishield. "I am actually in a dilemma that I never imagined... we are producing 250 million doses a month but the good news is that India has covered up a large part of its population and we would have completed all our orders to the ministry of health in a week's time," Poonawalla said, as quoted by news agency PTI.
The Pune-based vaccine firm has already written to the government seeking clarity on its future requirement for both doses of vaccines and also for booster doses, if the government plans any, in future.
As there are no other orders with Serum Institute as of now, the company plans to cut down its production on a monthly basis until the orders again pick up either in India or the world, Poonawalla said.
"Over the eight months when we could not export, other countries managed vaccine supplies from donations from the US and elsewhere and we have lost a lot of market share," he said.
"If they need more vaccines for the booster doses, we have already written to them (central government). Now it is their decision on the booster policy whether they will procure more and stockpile before the next surge happens, if at all it comes. We are awaiting their directions," Poonawalla added.
"We must keep in mind that we don't need a situation like last year where suddenly the country needs hundreds of millions of doses, that won't be possible if we dial down our production. So that is why we have explained this to the government and experts to please let us know now. If you need more doses for boosters we have it in stock, we can produce more. Just give us that guidance. That discussion is on at the moment."
Serum Institute currently has a stock of 500 million doses.