Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) on Tuesday rolled out the first consignment of over 56 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine for 13 cities across the country, four days ahead of a massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19. Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the institute, said various countries were in the queue to receive supplies of the vaccine and that he is “trying to keep everyone happy”.
“A lot of countries have been writing to India and PMO for vaccines to be supplied from the Serum Institute to their countries. We are trying to keep everyone happy. We have to take care of our population and nation as well. We’re trying to supply vaccines to Africa, South America. So we’re doing a little bit everywhere,” Poonawalla told ANI.
“We make 70-80 million doses every month. Planning is underway to see how many will be given to India and foreign countries. Health Ministry has made logistics plans. We also have partnership with private players for trucks, vans and cold storage,” he added.
Covishield is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII. On Monday, the government had placed firm orders in advanced commitments for over six crore doses of COVID vaccines from SII and Bharat Biotech for inoculating three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase of the vaccination drive scheduled to start from January 16. The cost is Rs 1,300 crore.
Poonawalla said dispatching vaccine was a “historical” moment. “Our main challenge is to bring it to everyone in the country. It is our challenge for 2021, let’s see how it happens.
He said that the vaccine is being offered at a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to the government. “We’ve given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 mn doses only to GoI on their request, that we want to support common man, vulnerable, poor, healthcare workers. After that we’ll be selling it at Rs 1000 in private markets,” Poonawalla said.