India

Adar Poonawalla's Praise For PM On Providing Vaccine To Global Community

Adar Poonawalla's Praise For PM On Providing Vaccine To Global Community

PM Modi spoke about the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in his virtual address to the UNGA

New Delhi:

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, took to Twitter today to praise Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the United Nations General Assembly on COVID-19 vaccines a day after he highlighted the challenges in vaccine production and distribution in the country.

Serum Institute is the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume and which is conducting trials of Covid vaccine candidates ahead of mass production.

Mr Poonawalla thanked the Prime Minister and said that it was clear that his "arrangements for India will take care of all needs for the Indian people." This comes after he had asked the government on Twitter if they had Rs 80,000 crore to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India.

"I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution," he added.


After Adar Poonawalla questioned government's vaccine funds, Ashwani Mahajan, the national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch which is affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), today tweeted that Mr Poonawalla could be "forced to produce vaccine free from exploitative royalty".

On Twitter he had posted saying, "May it be known to you @adarpoonawalla that India's Patent Act has a section on Compulsory Licensing and we can force you and your peers to produce vaccine free from exploitative royalty."

Mr Poonawalla's praise for the government came soon after.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Saturday in his virtual address to the UNGA said India can help in bringing the world out of the coronavirus crisis with mass vaccine distribution once all trials are completed successfully.

He said India was moving ahead with Phase-3 clinical trials - the large-scale trials considered the gold standard for determining safety and efficacy - and would help all countries enhance their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.

"India's vaccine production and capacity will help the world overcome this pandemic. India sent medical supplies to over 150 countries during the coronavirus crisis," PM Modi said.

Covishield - the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca and being tested by the Serum Institute in India - is currently in Phase 2 and Phase 3 human trials.

In July, when Mr Poonawalla spoke to, he suggested the Covishield vaccine, if made available, would cost around Rs 1,000. He also said India would get around 30 million doses per month and that it could take up to two years for the entire country to be inoculated.

In addition to Covishield, other vaccine candidates are also being tested across the country. Indigenous vaccine developers Bharat Biotech are in Phase 2 trials with COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila is waiting to receive approvals for Phase 3 clinical trials for its vaccine.

India's COVID-19 infection tally is nearing the 60-lakh mark and is the second worst affected country in the world after the United States.