NEW DELHI: Serum Institute of India CEO Aadar Poonawalla has said that the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield is in full swing in Pune and he will review the operations once he is back in the country.
Poonawalla is currently in the UK to meet his family members. “Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the UK. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD’s production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days,” Poonawalla said in a tweet.
India rolled out the third phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive for those in the age group of 18-45 years on Saturday though the inoculation process failed to take off in some states due to shortage of vaccines.
While Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir among other states and union territories launched the vaccination drive, Karnataka and Odisha made only a symbolic start to it.
Poonawalla on Saturday had spoken out about the pressures he was under over the production of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the ever-increasing demand in India as the country battles through a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his first comments since he was provided with Y category security by the government earlier this week, Poonawalla told ‘The Times’ in an interview about receiving aggressive calls from some of the most powerful people in India, demanding supplies of Covishield — the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that the Serum Institute is producing in India.
That pressure is largely behind his decision to fly into London to be with his wife and children, the 40-year-old entrepreneur had said.
The businessman indicated in the interview that his move to London is also linked to business plans to expand vaccine manufacturing to countries outside India, which may include the likes of the UK.
Last week, SII announced a cut in price of the jab it plans to sell to states to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400.
The price cut came after a widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it had sold the initial doses of Covishield to the central government at Rs 150 per dose. Covishield is the most used COVID-19 vaccine in India. It along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is being used by the government for vaccination in the country.