Serum Seeks Centre’s Nod to Supply 50 Lakh Vaccine Doses to UK
10 million doses of the 100 million ordered from AstraZeneca by Britain were to be delivered by Serum Institute.
Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has asked for Centre’s permission to supply 50 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine Covishield to the United Kingdom in order to abide by their agreement with AstraZeneca.
SII has assured the Government of India that its own vaccination drive will not be affected.
UK’s Vaccination Drive at Risk
The United Kingdom’s vaccination drive is expected to be hit in April in part due to delay in supply of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by SII, which was expected to deliver five million more doses of the shot, reported BBC.
Britain’s inoculation drive has been using the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and 10 million doses of the 100 million ordered from AstraZeneca were to be fulfilled by SII.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told The Telegraph that the batch of five million further doses will only be delivered once the Centre permits it. “It is solely dependent on India and it has nothing to do with SII. It is to do with the Indian government allowing more doses to the UK,” Poonawalla told the newspaper.
What the Agreement Says
Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII Prakash Kumar Singh had communicated with Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday, 23 March, seeking permission to supply 50 lakh doses of Covishield.
AstraZeneca UK Limited and SII had signed an agreement in June 2020, in order to acquire the technology for the production and supply of Covishield.
Singh stated that it had been agreed that SII will supply AstraZeneca to any country where AstraZeneca has commitments. It was further agreed that in lieu of getting access to the AZ technology, AZD1222, Serum will treat AstraZeneca as a priority customer, whether it is for drug substance or finished product, NDTV reported.
Singh reiterated that supplying the 50 lakh doses is of utmost priority as SII has an obligation to supply Covishield according to the agreement. Both AstraZeneca and the UK Government have also conveyed that if the minimum 50 lakh doses are not supplied to the UK within the week then the UK government may have to stop its vaccination programme.
Singh added, “We are sure, considering the gravity of the situation and the prestige of our company as well as our country, you will definitely intervene and permit us to supply at least 50 lakh doses of Covishield to the UK this week. We shall be highly obliged for the same. We assure you that the Government of India's vaccination programme will not be disturbed because of this supply,” NDTV reported.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Telegraph and BBC.)
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