Serum Insitute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield is going on at full swing at the company's plant in Pune and he will review the operations after returning to India from London in a few days.
Earlier, Poonawalla had dropped a bombshell by saying in an interview he had extended his stay in London because of threatening phone calls he had been receiving from the "most powerful" people in India for immediate supplies of Covishield.
SII is manufacturing AstraZeneca-Oxford University's Covishield vaccine in India.
Poonawalla is also looking to start production of Covishield outside India, with UK being a possible option. The company will soon make an announcement on the issue.
"Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the U.K.," Poonawalla tweeted, adding that Covishield production is in full swing in Pune.
Had an excellent meeting with all our partners & stakeholders in the U.K. Meanwhile, pleased to state that COVISHIELD's production is in full swing in Pune. I look forward to reviewing operations upon my return in a few days.- Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) May 1, 2021
In an interview to The Times, Poonawalla said he had been getting phone calls from the "most powerful" in India, including chief ministers, and business leaders, for immediate supply of Covishield vaccine.
"Threats is an understatement. The level of expectation and agression is really unprecedented. It's overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can't understand why anyone else should get it before them," Poonawalla said referrring to the phone calls.
"I'm staying here (London) an extended time because I don't want to go back to that situation...Everything falls on my shoulders but I can't do it alone...I don't want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can't supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don't want to guess what they are going to do," he had said on his stay in London.
Earlier this week, the Centre had decided to give Y category security to Poonawalla. The government's decision came after Prakash Kumar Singh, director, government and regulatory affairs at SII, wrote to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on April 16.
In his letter, Singh had requested the Union Home Ministry to provide security to Poonawalla. He also talked about the threats that Poonawalla had received from various groups over supplies of SII's coronavirus vaccine.