AstraZeneca serves legal notice to Serum Institute over vaccine delays
08 Apr 2021
Serum Institute of India (SII), the manufacturer of the coronavirus vaccine Covishield, has been served a legal notice by the drug maker AstraZeneca over delays in vaccine supply, the company's CEO Adar Poonawalla confirmed in an interview earlier this week.
The delays apparently occurred after the Indian government halted the exports of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Here are more details on this.
'Government is evaluating what can be done'
"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 fulfill due to its prioritization of Indian supplies," Poonawalla told Business Standard.
"The government is evaluating what it can do to resolve the issue," he assured.
SII delayed shipment of vaccines to the UK
Reportedly, the legal notice was issued after the Serum Institute delayed the shipment of vaccines to the UK.
The company also did not meet its commitments to other foreign countries under the COVAX program.
Serum has attributed these delays to the Indian government's decision to halt vaccine exports for the time being so as to meet the country's domestic needs.
'Hoping this is a temporary measure'
"We are hoping this is a temporary measure. Once the situation in India cools off, (vaccine) exports can pick up pace," Poonawalla said.
"In two months, we can review all things based on the situation in India, so that we end up doing what is good for India and the globe," he was quoted as saying.
Serum a key supplier to the UN-backed COVAX program
Serum is one of the major suppliers for the United Nations-backed COVAX program, which aims to distribute vaccines equitably around the world.
Meanwhile, Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI alliance, recently said, "We had expected, in March and April, about 90 million doses, and we suspect we'll get much, much less than that, and that is a problem (sic)."
Need Rs. 3,000 crore to scale up production, Poonawalla says
According to Poonawalla, Serum Institute produces between 60 and 65 million vaccine doses per month and has thus far delivered around 100 million doses to the Centre and exported 60 million.
The company needs Rs. 3,000 crore to be able to scale up production by June, he said.
India also needs other manufacturers to help enhance production as per the current requirements, he informed.
COVID-19 situation in India continues to worsen
Last month, the Indian government temporarily stopped vaccine exports amid an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases across the country.
India on Wednesday reported over 1.26 lakh fresh infections, the biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began, taking the nationwide tally to over 1.29 crore.
The surge has mainly been attributed to mutated strains of the virus and laxity among people in following coronavirus-related protocols.