The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number, on Sunday asked for patience from foreign governments waiting for their supplies of COVID-19 shots, saying that India’s requirements had been prioritized.
“…I humbly request you to please be patient,” SII’s chief executive Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet here, adding the company “has been directed to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world.”
“We are trying our best,” Poonawalla said.
Dear countries & governments, as you await #COVISHIELD supplies, I humbly request you to please be patient, @SerumInstIndia has been directed to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best.
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) February 21, 2021
Centred in Pune, the company manufactures the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, one of the two shots that India is using as part of a national inoculation campaign to initially vaccinate some 300 million people.
Many low and middle-income countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Brazil, are depending on the Indian company’s SII AstraZeneca vaccine, called Covishield.
Demand is rising, however, including from Western countries such as Canada, where Poonawalla has pledged next month to deliver the Covishield vaccine.
The UK drug regulator also audits development processes at SII, eventually paving the way for the Covishield vaccine to be delivered to the UK and other countries from there.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for the slow start of its vaccination campaign, but health officials are planning to dramatically increase the number of inoculations in the coming weeks.
Since mid-January, India has vaccinated about 11 million individuals. India has the world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 cases with over 10.9 million confirmed infections, behind only the United States.
The country is currently reporting about 12,000 new infections on average every day, a fraction of its peak since last September, according to the Reuters study.
However, the federal health authorities reported on Sunday that they had written to some states that are currently experiencing an increase in cases, asking them to enhance the overall testing, surveillance and tracking of COVID-19 mutations.