Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Sunday urged other countries to patiently wait for the supply of the Covishield vaccine against the coronavirus, saying that his company had been directed to prioritise India’s inoculation needs.
“Dear countries and governments, as you await Covishield supplies, I humbly request you to please be patient,” Poonawalla tweeted. “Serum Institute of India 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.”
The Serum Institute is the Indian manufacturer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. The shot, along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, is being used in India’s massive inoculation drive.
Poonawalla had told NDTV last month that his company will supply Covishield to 30 countries over the course of two to three weeks. He had emphasised that India will be prioritised for vaccine rollout.
India has reported 1,09,91,651 coronavirus cases and 1,56,302 deaths so far. States like Maharashtra, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have been witnessing an uptick in cases.
Meanwhile, more than 1 crore health and frontline workers have been vaccinated so far.
India has also shipped vaccine doses to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives under the “Vaccine Maitri” (vaccine friendship) initiative.
Last week, the World Health Organization approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, paving way for its distribution in developing countries through the COVAX programme. The vaccine is cheaper and easier to distribute than some other alternatives like the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.