The CEO of the Serum Institute, which runs production at Covishield, is currently in London following phone calls from various parties for priority delivery.
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonwalla spoke on Saturday of the pressure he was under over producing COVID-19 vaccines to meet ever-growing demand in India as the country battles against a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his first comments since receiving Grade ‘Y’ security from the Indian government earlier this week, Mr Poonawalla said Time in an interview about receiving aggressive calls from some of India’s most powerful people, demanding supplies from Covishield – the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the Serum Institute produces in India.
This pressure largely explains his decision to travel to London to be with his wife and children, the 40-year-old entrepreneur said.
“I’m staying here (London) for a long time because I don’t want to go back to this situation. It all falls on my shoulders but I can’t do it alone … I don’t want to be in a situation where you’re just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t meet the needs of X, Y or Z you really don’t want to guess what they’re going to do, ”Poonawalla told the newspaper.
“The level of expectation and aggression is truly unprecedented. It is overwhelming. Everyone thinks he should get the shot. They can’t understand why someone else should get it before them, ”he said.
Manufacturing plans outside India
The businessman said in the interview that his move to London was also linked to business plans to expand vaccine manufacturing to countries outside of India, which could include the UK.
“There will be an announcement in the next few days,” he said, when asked about Britain as one of the production bases outside of India.
According to the journal, by the time the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine was approved in January this year, the Serum Institute of India had increased its annual production capacity from 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion doses at a cost of 800 million. of dollars and had stored 50 million doses of Covishield.
The company has started exporting to 68 countries, including Britain, as India appeared to have been at its worst, until the situation worsened in recent weeks.
“We’re really out of breath for all the help we can get,” Poonawalla said.
“I don’t think even God could have predicted it was going to get this bad,” he said.
On the charge of profit as the cost of Covishield was recently increased, he called it “totally incorrect” and added that Covishield will still be “the most affordable vaccine on the planet” even at a higher price.
“We did our best without cutting corners or doing anything wrong or profiting. I will wait for history to judge, ”he said.
“I have always had this sense of responsibility to India and the world because of the vaccines we made, but we never made a vaccine so necessary to save lives,” he added.