Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has thanked US President Joe Biden and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for a “policy change” that is expected to boost production of coronavirus vaccines in India and other countries.
Mr Poonawalla said the policy change – revoking an embargo on the export of raw materials needed to produce the vaccine – will “strengthen our united fight against this pandemic”.
“Thanks to the efforts of President of the United States, the White House and Dr S Jaishankar, this policy change will hopefully increase supply of raw materials globally and to India; boosting our vaccine production capacity and strengthening our united fight against this pandemic,” he tweeted.
Thanks to the efforts of @POTUS, @WhiteHouse, & @DrSJaishankar, this policy change will hopefully increase the supply of raw materials globally and to India; boosting our vaccine production capacity and strengthening our united fight against this pandemic. https://t.co/bHADBwiUnm
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) June 4, 2021
Mr Jaishankar responded shortly afterwards, tweeting: “Indian diplomacy is focussed on securing the vaccine supply chain.”
Indian diplomacy is focussed on securing the vaccine supply chain. https://t.co/lI9TY3XhzH
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) June 4, 2021
n Thursday the US lifted an embargo imposed in February, under its Defense Production Act, to ensure local manufacturers, including Pfizer, had resources to produce doses for its population.
The White House was looking to scale up production of vaccines – mostly by Pfizer and Moderna – to meet the goal of vaccinating its entire population by July 4.
A statement from the White House said the Biden administration is now “confident in our supply of our authorized vaccines” and “as a result, we’re removing DPA priority ratings for AstraZeneca (the vaccine manufactured and sold in India by the Serum Institute as Covishield), Novavax, and Sanofi”.
Mr Jaishankar was in the United States last month to discuss ways to “work with the US on vaccine production… because the US, in terms of supply chain, is absolutely indispensable”.
The US has also said India will receive Covid vaccines from surplus stock in that country.
Vice President Kamala Harris told Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday that 25 million doses will be sent to India and other countries as part of the US’ “Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing”.
The US plans to share at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of this month.
After the call the Prime Minister tweeted to thank the US and Vice President Harris for the support.
In April Mr Poonawalla had tweeted to Mr Biden to urge him to lift the exports ban.
A week later the US defended its decision to enforce the embargo, saying that its first obligation was to take care of the requirements of the American people.
India has been hit hard by the second wave, with lakhs infected and thousands dying every day. At its peak – which seems to be in decline – the country was reporting over four lakh cases per day.
The flood of infections coincided with a slowdown in vaccination, as production by the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech was affected, at least in part, by the embargo.
The centre has said it is continuing to work with manufacturers to scale up production, and expects to have over 200 crore doses available in the country between August and December.