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Can’t ramp up output overnight: Poonawalla

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 03, 2021

Employees pack boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine at the Serum Institute of India (file photo)   -  AP

Received orders for 26 crore doses of which 15 crore vials have been supplied, says Serum Institute chief

As the rush for vaccines increases across the country, Serum Institute of India’s chief Adar Poonawalla said that it is not possible to ramp up vaccine production “overnight”.

“First of all, vaccine manufacturing is a specialised process, it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight. We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task. Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling in relatively smaller populations,” Poonawalla said in a statement.

Setting the record right on the orders SII has received from the Centre, he said, it they had got indents for over 26 crore doses of which more than 15 crore doses had been supplied.

Advance payment

SII had received 100 per cent advance of ₹1,732.50 crore from the Centre for the next set of 11 crore doses to be supplied in the next few months, Poonawalla added. Another 11 crore vials would be supplied in the next few months to the States and the private channels, he added.

Poonawalla had recently said that they may start production overseas as well to service contractual obligations. He had also indicated facing threats in India over delayed supplies.

The SII statement comes on the heels of a government clarification on orders it had placed with the two vaccine-makers. The Centre said it had advanced ₹1,732.5 crore to SII on April 28 for 11 crore doses of Covishield for May-July. As on date, as against the last order of 10 crore doses of Covishield, 8.744 crore vials had been delivered till May 3, it said, refuting reports that the Government had not placed orders,

Covaxin orders

The Centre also said that it had placed an order on Bharat Biotech for 5 crore Covaxin doses for May-July against an advance payment of ₹787.5 crore. As on date against the last order of 2 crore doses of Covaxin, 0.8813 crore vials have been delivered till May 3, it added.

The Centre reiterated that it had provided 16.54 crore vaccine shots to States/UTs for free and as on date, more than 78 lakh doses are still available with them for administering. Another 56 lakh doses will be delivered to the States in the next three days, an official statement said.

Vax 3.0 programme

Under Vax 3.0 for the 18-44 age group, the Government would continue to procure its share of 50 per cent of the monthly approved vaccines and make them available to the States free of cost as was being done earlier, the statement said. India has administered 15,71,98,207 vaccine doses so far with 12,10,347 jabs given in the 24 hours till 8:00 am on Monday, according to Health Ministry data.

Meanwhile, Delhi started its vaccination on Monday for those in the 18-44 years group with full vigour at 301 sites each with capacity to administer more than 45,000 jabs daily. There are about 92 lakh people in Delhi in 18-44 year age group. In the next few days, 3,000 vaccination centres will start operating in 300 schools across Delhi, said Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister.

SC on pricing, supply

In a separate development on vaccine pricing, the Supreme Court on Sunday said the vaccine pricing policy of the Centre needed to be revisited. A Bench asked the government to consider procuring vaccines for all States at the same price. The government has to respond by May 10, the next date of hearing.

Published on May 03, 2021

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