Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has said he was amazed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's knowledge of the vaccines. He was referring to the Prime Minister's visit to the SII campus in Pune on Saturday, November 29. The SII CEO said there were detailed discussions about different vaccines in the market right now.
"We have built the largest pandemic-level facility in Pune and a new campus in Mandri. It was also shown to the Prime Minister with a tour around the facility and a lot of detailed discussions... Prime Minister is knowledgeable about vaccines and vaccine production... We were amazed," Poonawalla was quoted by LiveMint as saying.
Had a good interaction with the team at Serum Institute of India. They shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility. pic.twitter.com/PvL22uq0nl— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 28, 2020
PM Modi also tweeted about his visit to the Serum Institute, saying they "had a good interaction." "They (SII experts) shared details about their progress so far on how they plan to further ramp up vaccine manufacturing. Also took a look at their manufacturing facility," said the Prime Minister.
Poonawalla thanked PM Modi for visiting the institute and said he shared the prime minister's vision and will continue to work towards ensuring a safe and secure India. The SII is conducting phase 3 trials of its vaccine candidate Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford and Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca, in India.
Poonawalla said earlier the company has started the process of applying for emergency use authorisation of its vaccine. The SII may apply for clearance in in the next two weeks, he said, adding the rollout could happen only after the necessary nod from authorities.
"The licence will be granted based on the data submitted by us. We are in the process of submitting the data to the Drug Controller of India," he said.
Poonawalla had earlier said the company will focus on supplying vaccines to India first. "It is very important we take care of our country first, then go on to Covax after that and then other bilateral deals with countries. So, I've kept it in that priority," Poonawalla had told reporters.
SII is the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines. The company aims to scale up manufacturing of Covishield to 100 million doses a month from the current 50-60 million doses for stockpiling now.
COVAX Alliance, envisaged by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and GAVI, the vaccine alliance of a public-private global health partnership and mainly funded by billionaire Bill Gates, is planning to vaccinate over 3 billion worldwide with affordable COVID-19 vaccines in over 90-120 countries. Under this, Serum has also received at-risk pre-funding of $300 million from the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and the GAVI.