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AstraZeneca has sent Serum Institute a legal notice over delays in COVID-19 vaccine supply: Adar Poonawalla

SII will prioritise supplies to India over the next one or two months, Poonawalla has said.

April 08, 2021 / 10:22 AM IST
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawala

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawala

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has sent Pune-based SII a legal notice over delays in the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Indian government is also aware of the legal notice, Poonawalla told Business Standard.

"I cannot comment on the legal notice as it is confidential, but we are examining all avenues to amicably manage and resolve legal disputes over contractual obligations that Serum Institute is not able to fulfil due to its prioritisation of Indian supplies," Poonawalla told the publication.

"Everyone has been very understanding so far. The government is evaluating what it can do to resolve the issue."

Also read - With rise in COVID-19 cases, India likely to make less availability of vaccines globally: Gavi

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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SII is manufacturing AstraZeneca-Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine, which is known as Covishield in India.

Recently, Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI alliance, said India will now make a smaller number of vaccines available to the world due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

"We had expected, in March and April, about 90 million doses, and we suspect we'll get much, much less than that, and that is a problem," Berkley said.

Gavi and the UN-backed COVAX programme are working towards ensuring distribution fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to every country.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccine Q&As | Can India start vaccinating all, what is the current output, do we face shortage and other key queries answered

Poonawalla told Business Standard that SII will prioritise supplies to India over the next one or two months.

"We are hoping this is a temporary measure. Once the situation in India cools off, (vaccine) exports can pick up pace. In two months, we can review all things based on the situation in India, so that we end up doing what is good for India and the globe," he said.

Poonwalla also told NDTV that SII needed Rs 3,000 crore to ramp up capacity needed to scale up production by June.

Vaccine shortage has been a huge concern and has pitted the UK against the European Union.  Countries like the US have been accused of vaccine nationalism and Canada has come under fire for "hoarding" vaccines as coronavirus cases continue to spiral in large parts of  Europe and the US.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 8, 2021 10:22 am

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