India to face COVID-19 vaccine shortage till July, says Serum chief Adar Poonawalla

Amid surge in Covid-19 infections in the country, Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla revealed that the issue of vaccine shortage in India will last for months.

According to a Financial Times report, Poonawalla has said that production of vaccines is expected to increase in July from about 60 – 70 million doses a month to about 100 million.

The shortage comes at a time when India has opened vaccination for all adults from May 1.

While the Centre launched the third phase of the immunisation drive, covering citizens above 18 years, several states have expressed their inability to conduct the inoculation programme as they do not have sufficient vaccines. Many states are awaiting more stock from drug companies.

The report quoted Poonawalla saying that the authorities did not expect to confront a second wave back in January when new Covid-19 cases had declined. “Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic,” he was quoted as saying.

Defending his firm, Poonawalla told the newspaper that SII had been maligned by politicians and critics over the vaccine shortages.

“I’ve been victimised very unfairly and wrongly,” he told the newspaper, adding that he had not boosted capacity earlier because “there were no orders, we did not think we needed to make more than 1 billion doses a year.”

Currently, Serum Institute of India (SII) is producing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in the UK.

Meanwhile, India reported a spike of 3,68,147 fresh coronavirus infections, taking the cumulative caseload to 1,99,25,604 on Monday (May 3, 2021), as per data by the health ministry.

The country’s total Covid-19 caseload has now increased to 1.99 crore (1,99,25,604), of which, 34.13 lakh (34,13,642) are active cases. India has also witnessed 3,417 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 2.18 lakh (2,18,959) coronavirus-related deaths.