‘Sitting Over 200 Mn Vials’: Poonawalla Says Serum Institute Has Halted Production Of Vaccines

New Delhi: Serum Institute of India Ltd., one of the major manufacturers and suppliers of Covid-19 vaccine in India and abroad, on Friday said that it has halted the production of fresh batches of vaccines as stockpile of Coronavirus jabs has grown to 200 million doses on the backdrop of decline in demand.  SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has said his company had stopped production of vaccines from December 31, 2021, just to avoid waste.

While making the statement, Poonawalla pointed out that despite slashing the rates of vaccines from Rs 600 to Rs 225 a dose fatigue among the public for Covid vaccines forced the company to shut down production of new doses. 

“Currently, we are sitting over 200 million vials”, news agency PTI quoted him as saying during a Times Network conclave. Furthermore, warning against the return to the business-as-usual approach, Poonawalla said “we can’t afford to put a price tag on the life of a citizen” as the pandemic is not behind us yet.

“I have also offered vaccines for free to avoid waste, which I wouldn’t have done if my objective is money,” he said.

“Unfortunately for the key people who are supposed to be taking decisions on time, the committees supposed to be meeting on time, it seems there is no urgency any longer,” Poonawalla said adding that the momentum of the past that brought us so far here is lost. 

Further while discussing about early adoption of booster doses, Poonawalla said that it is also needed because people need to travel internally and outside, and many countries have made booster doses mandatory for travel. The SII chief clarified the reason behind bringing down the gap between two doses from nine months to 6 months. 

He said that several global studies have have shown that the antibody goes down when the vaccine gap is increased.

During the conclave, Poonawalla also expressed his disappointment from government for not giving nod to Covovax vaccine for the 7-11 year-olds despite the jab getting the required regulatory approvals long ago. He also said that Covovax vaccine has also been in supply to Europe and Australia since long. Though the government, as a whole, recognises the importance of healthcare, it seems the urgency has been lost, he said. 

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