The Serum Institute of India stopped production of Covid-19 vaccines from December 31 after its stockpile had 200 million unused doses, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said on Friday.
At the India Economic Conclave organised by Times Network, Poonawalla said the firm stopped making new batches as he was worried about wastage if the shots expired.
He said that the Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine had a low off-take even after the company had reduced the price from Rs 600 to Rs 225 per dose.
In December, Poonawalla had said that his company had almost completed all the vaccine orders and would therefore reduce the production, the BBC reported.
On Friday, the chief executive officer defended his call for reducing the gap between two doses from nine months to six months, stating that his intention was not to make money, PTI reported. Poonawalla said that he did not want citizens to suffer as they did during the two waves of the pandemic.
“I have also offered vaccines for free to avoid waste, which I wouldn’t have done if my objective is money,” he added, according to PTI.
He also warned against having a business-as-usual approach, saying that the pandemic is not over yet.
“But, unfortunately for the key people who are supposed to be taking decisions on time, the committees supposed to be meeting on time, it seems there is no urgency any longer,” Poonawalla said.
He also urged everyone to take booster doses. “My point is that we can’t put a price tag on the life of a person be it an adult or a child,” the chief executive said. “So, taking decisions on time as we did during the second wave is the need of the hour when it comes to booster doses and jabbing the kids.”
Poonawalla’s remarks came in the backdrop of rising Covid-19 cases in various Indian states after most governments lifted restrictions under the Epidemic Diseases Control Act, 2020.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 1,009 new Covid-19 cases, which was the highest number since February 10.
On Thursday, the Punjab government advised residents to wear masks in crowded places, saying that coronavirus cases were increasing in neighbouring states.
On April 18, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh made wearing masks mandatory in public places in districts that are part of the National Capital Region.