Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla, on Friday, urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on vaccine raw materials exported out of the country so that vaccine production can be ramped up. This request comes amid reports of vaccine shortage in the country.
"Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details," said Poonawalla.
Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details.Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) April 16, 2021
The CEO had earlier stated in multiple interviews about the pain point of raw materials. He said that the US has implemented the Defence Act that bans export of raw materials leading to difficulties to several vaccine manufacturers. He called the restriction "as good as banning vaccines". Poonawalla, whose company is also manufacturing the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, said that the production of the same has been stalled because of the issue with raw materials.
The company imports a long list of raw materials from the US, stated Poonawalla. "There is a long list of raw materials which we import from the US - filters, bags, certain media solutions, etc. To develop new suppliers in the eleventh hour will take a bit of time. We will do that. We will not be dependent on the US after six months. The problem is we need it now," he had said in an interview with Business Standard earlier.
As production issues cropped up, AstraZeneca sent a legal notice to its manufacturing partner over delays in COVID-19 vaccine supply. Indian government is aware of the legal notice, stated Poonawalla. "AstraZeneca has sent us a legal notice 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," he said.
Multiple states including Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan have written to the Centre, flagging dwindling COVID-19 vaccine stocks. Many districts in Karnataka, Odisha and Kerala have also said that their vaccine stock is rapidly getting over.
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