Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has urged Indian government to reduce the gap of booster doses from 9 months to 6 months and prescribing booster shots every year or two.
The appeal comes two days after the government allowed administration of Covid-19 booster doses to all adults.
He was addressing the issue about the new variants of Covid spreading around the world at a session which was a part of the 7th National Leadership Conclave of All India Management Association (AIMA) on Tuesday.
“The world faces a choice between lockdowns and booster shots. I have told Government of India to reduce the gap between the second Covid vaccine shot and the booster shot from 9 months to 6 months,” said Poonawalla adding that one should have a booster before the next wave and not after it.
Poonawalla argued that he had tied up with four developers of Covid vaccine, of which AstraZeneca and Novovax have been launched, but the other two have been put on the backburner as demand is going down. He said that he had built separate facilities for each of these vaccines and now he is repurposing some of those.
He said that SII -- which manufactures the Covid-19 vaccine Covishield -- is working on a global pandemic treatment treaty and he hopes that some multilateral institution will get countries to sign up so that the chaos and inequity of vaccine availability is not repeated.
“Such a treaty is essential to ensure free flow of vaccine raw materials and harmonize the regulation and recognition of vaccines globally. Signing up such a treaty will make it easier for the politicians to explain reciprocity to their constituents,” said Poonawalla.
He pointed out that the Government of India had to step in to get raw materials from the US for Covid vaccine in India, something that should not be necessary.
The CEO also said that India and SII faced severe reputation damage when export of Covid vaccine was banned for nearly two months during the second wave. “The companies had taken risk and made commitments to other countries," he said.
Regarding his foray into financial services, Poonawalla said that India’s economic growth requires capital and credit and the financial sector would fuel the growth. “Finance is an ever-growing demand sector. As an investor I am staying away from the valuation game and investing mainly in brick-and-mortar businesses,” he said.
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