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SII on track to deliver 200 million doses of Covishield per month: Adar Poonawalla

The SII CEO's statement comes amid the row over the UK tightening quarantine rules for vaccinated Indians. As per the UK government's order, fully vaccinated persons arriving from a number of countries, including India, would be treated as "unvaccinated" and will have to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

September 21, 2021 / 10:16 AM IST
SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla

SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute of India (SII) will deliver 200 million Covishield vaccines doses per month by December, CEO Adar Poonawalla said on September 20.

Speaking on the subject of India's total inoculations which has crossed nearly 81 crores with nearly 47 percent of the population vaccinated with one dose, Poonawalla said that by December the "change will be visible more drastically" as SII is on track to fulfill the order by Health Ministry.

"As you rightly mentioned roughly 50 percent - thanks to all the manufacturers put together is what India has reached with one dose. I think by December, you're going to see that change even more drastically, we are going to be delivering close to 200 million doses a month, which is what the Union Ministry of Health has ordered and we are on track to do that,” he said told CNBC TV 18.

“In March, April, we had estimated that in June, July, we would be making a certain amount, which was around 100 million doses a month. Based on the surge in the second wave and the chaos that the nation was facing, we decided to sacrifice all our other future vaccines, monoclonal, which is why we did a tie-up with Biocon also, so that, we can leverage their capabilities and not sacrifice too much of the pipeline of our new products as well,” Poonawalla added.

He further stated that countries across the world need to harmonise vaccine certification on priority, amid the row over the United Kingdom tightening quarantine rules for vaccinated Indians.


COVID-19 Vaccine

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"Leaders need to address the issue of harmonising vaccine certification as a priority," he told CNBC TV 18

Poonawalla added that he was "shocked why countries are unable to come together on one regulatory quality standard for vaccine trials and travel passports."

His remarks came shortly after a number of Indians, including former Union ministers Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor, condemned the UK for treating vaccinated Indians as "unvaccinated" upon their arrival to the country.

As per the UK government's order, a person vaccinated in countries like the UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia, or the continents of Africa and South America, will be considered as unvaccinated and will have to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon their arrival.

The inclusion of India in the list has drawn questions as 88 percent of the country's residents have been jabbed with Covishield, which is identical to the AstraZeneca vaccine used for the mass inoculation drive in the UK.

On the other hand, countries like Australia, Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Korea - that have been using the UK-made AstraZeneca vaccine for their inoculation programme - have been excluded from the list.

"Covishield is identical to AstraZeneca vaccine and data has been submitted to UK MHRA and EU regulators... Have had personal consultations with regulators in UK and EU and expect a response shortly," Poonawalla told CNBC TV 18.

"It is not regulatory filing or quality systems but vaccine certificate systems that western nations are struggling to find a way out," the top SII functionary said.

Poonawalla, while pointing out that the Government of India has got approval in many European countries, added that "other countries have to also play ball on vaccine acceptance".

From October onwards, the facilities used to manufacture Covishield would be churning out 160-220 million doses, Poonawalla said, adding that this will be used to clear the export backlog of a billion doses.

Notably, the Indian government has cleared the export and donation of vaccines from October. The same was suspended since mid-March, following a rapid surge of infections in India due to the second wave of the pandemic.
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