SII Receives Legal Notice from AstraZeneca Over Vaccine Delays

This comes as SII struggles to meet domestic, as well as international vaccine demands.

Published
India
2 min read
Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India.
i

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has sent Adar Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India (SII), its partner and producer of the coronavirus vaccine Covishield, a legal notice over vaccine supply delays.

In an interview with Business Standard, Poonawalla said, "Astrazeneca has sent us a legal notice (for delays in supplying the vaccine) and the Indian government is also aware of that. I cannot comment on the legal notice as it is confidential, but we are examining all avenues to amicably manage and resolve legal disputes over contractual obligations that Serum Institute is not able to fulfil due to its prioritisation of Indian supplies.”

This comes as SII struggles to meet domestic, as well as international vaccine demands and India sees an unprecedented rise in the number of cases countrywide.

‘Prioritising My Country’

“I am prioritising my country because there is a surge in the cases. For the next one or two months, we will be prioritising supplies in India based on the request of our government and also the needs of the people,” Poonawalla told the Business Standard.

Speaking on the legal notice, he added, “Everyone has been very understanding so far. The government is evaluating what it can do to resolve the issue.”

The head of the world’s largest vaccine maker had told NDTV earlier that it needed roughly Rs 3,000 crore to build capacity and support the nation in light of the COVID surge.

"This was never budgeted or planned initially because we were supposed to export and get the funding from export countries but now that that is not happening, we have to find other innovative ways to build our capacity," he added, NDTV reported.

Global shipments of up to 90 million doses were delayed, as SII had to cater to domestic demand due to the rising COVID cases in India, according to Associated Press.

Covishield vaccine exports will only restart by June, if the surge of infections in India subsides, Poonawalla said. However, a continued surge will require SII to cater primarily to domestic needs, further delaying exports.

The company hopes to increase its capacity of Covishield to 110 million doses per month from June, he added. It is producing two million doses per day at the moment.

On Thursday, 8 April, India reported 1,26,789 new coronavirus cases, this is the biggest one-day rise in cases in the country ever since the pandemic began.

(With inputs from NDTV, AP and Business Standard)

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