The Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield, on Tuesday said that the company has not exported vaccines “at the cost of people in India”. In a statement released by the company, Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said it was responding to the “intense discussion” on the decision of the Centre and Indian manufacturers to export vaccines.

Serum Institute said that around January this year, the company had “large stockpile” of vaccines, while other countries were facing a shortage.

The company backed the central government’s decision to send vaccines to other countries, suggesting that “cooperation between countries” formed the basis for getting access to technology and aid for healthcare. The company added that it also had commitments towards the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative to send vaccines.

“We will not be safe till everyone globally is able to defeat this virus at a global scale,” the statement mentioned.

The Narendra Modi government has faced criticism for sending nearly 6.6 crore vaccine doses to 95 countries under the “Vaccine Maitri” initiative. The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the 84% of the coronavirus vaccines exported so far by the Centre were part of commercial and licensing liabilities of the two manufacturers, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.

Last week, the Delhi Police made several arrests after posters criticising Modi were found across the city.

In its statement, the Serum Institute of India also pointed out that the vaccination drive in India cannot be completed “in two-three months”, given its population. It added that it would take two to three years to vaccinate the world’s population.

Since the beginning of the third phase of inoculation in the country from May 1, which made all adults eligible for the vaccine, several states have been facing shortages of vaccines as manufacturers have not been able to meet supply requirements. Many of them have decided to float global tendersfor procuring the doses as they struggle to inoculate those in the age group of 18-45.

So far, more than 18.51 crore doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in India, while over 4.09 crore beneficiaries have received both the shots, according to government data.