Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is planning to begin vaccine production outside India as it struggles to meet supply commitments. The pharma giant, which manufactures the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is going to make a formal announcement in the next few days.
SII's CEO Adar Poonawalla told the Times on Friday that "there's going to be an announcement in the next few days."
Poonawalla had said last week that the Serum Institute would be able to increase its monthly vaccine production to 100 million doses by July this year, which is later than an earlier timeline of end-May. Many states in India have run out of COVID-19 vaccines.
Poonawalla hoped to raise SII's production capacity from 2.5 billion to 3 billion doses a year within six months, the publication reported, adding that he flew to London before Britain banned travelers from India eight days ago.
Coronavirus cases and deaths have surged in India as the world's second-most populous country has reported more than 300,000 new infections daily for nine consecutive days, hitting another global record of 386,452 on Friday.
The surge has led to a public health crisis and forced the government to seek oxygen, medicines, and other essentials from abroad.
The nation's coronavirus cases may peak between May 3-5, according to scientists advising the government.
Some health experts said India became complacent when new cases were running at about 10,000 a day and the novel coronavirus seemed to be under control. Authorities lifted restrictions, allowing the resumption of large festivals and political rallies.
(With inputs from Reuters.)