Serum Institute of India (SII) chief executive Adar Poonawalla has revealed that the production of covid vaccination could be seriously affected as the US and European nations have restricted the export of critical raw materials required by the vaccine manufacture to produce the Covishield inoculation.
“We have not banned exports, we have prioritised our country for the next two months, whereas Europe and the US have banned the exports of raw materials and vaccines…US needs to have a global perspective and not ban raw materials”, said Poonawalla.
Although the restrictions on raw material is not affecting the production of Covishield but it is affecting the production of Covocax, the second Covid-19 vaccine which SII is working on.
While expressing his anguish over the unavailability of key raw materials, Poonawalla said,“I wish I could go there and protest in the US myself to say that you are holding back critical raw material that are required for Covaxin and so many vaccine manufacturers in India and other parts of the world.”
He said that the struggle is short term as they will be able develop other suppliers in the meantime. He also clarified that they are not looking at China as the alternative supplier, considering the quality concerns.
The United States has invoked the defence Act that restricts export of raw materials that are in turn impacting the manufacturing of vaccination.
The ban has temporarily halved SII’s capacity, even as the manufacturer aims to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine Novavax this year.
The Pune-based Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. It is currently manufacturing the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. This vaccine is being marketed in India under the name ‘Covishield’. It is currently producing 6 to 6.5 crore Covishield vaccines per month and hopes to almost double it to 10 to 11 crore by June.