After alleged threats, Serum Institute chief says he will return to India in a ‘few days’
In an interview, Adar Poonawalla had claimed that he went to London before UK banned travellers from India because of threats demanding vaccines.
Serum Institute of India Chief Executive officer Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said that he will be returning to India, hours after his interview published in The Times noted that he had left the country because of threats related to the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.
Poonawalla is chief executive officer of the Serum Institute, the local maker of the Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
In the interview to the British daily, Poonawalla said that he was under pressure for the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines as its demand was constantly increasing. “I don’t want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don’t want to guess what they are going to do,” he said.
Late on Saturday, Poonawalla tweeted that he held a meeting with his partners and stakeholders in the United Kingdom. “Meanwhile, pleased to state that Covishield’s production is in full swing in Pune,” he wrote.
Poonawalla had said in his interview that phone calls for the Covid-19 vaccine shots were the “worst thing”. While the conversation begins cordially, the Serum Institute chief said that it goes in a “very different direction” when he explains why he cannot possibly meet the vaccine demands. The Serum Institute chief also said that he was planning the production of the vaccine in other countries amid struggles to meet supply commitments.
On April 28, the Centre said that Poonawalla will be given Y category security cover across India. The Ministry of Home Affairs had issued the orders after conducting a detailed threat assessment.
The central government has announced the third phase of vaccination drive, covering citizens above 18 years from May 1. However, several states have expressed their inability to conduct the inoculation programme as they do not have sufficient vaccines as some were awaiting for more stock from drug companies.
Many states cited the inability of vaccine manufacturers to deliver vaccines as a reason behind not able to vaccinate the 18-44 age groups.
India has reported more than 3 lakh coronavirus cases for the last 10 days. On Sunday, India recorded 3,92,488 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall infection count in the country to 1,95,57,457 since the pandemic first broke out in January last year. The toll climbed by 3,689 to 2,15,542.
India has so far administered 15,68,16,031 coronavirus vaccine doses, giving 18,26,219 shots on Saturday alone.
Coronavirus: Several states unlikely to begin third phase of vaccination on May 1. Here’s a list