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Serum won’t export Covid vaccine till July

Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Wednesday said that his company would not export Covishield vaccine for two months till July.
Bangladesh has launched vaccinating its people with Covishield vaccine importing from Serum Institute of India under an agreement. But, the country is now facing an acute shortage of the vaccine after the Indian government has suddenly announced suspending of vaccine export following steep rise in Covid cases across the country.
Amid the steep rise in Covid cases and reports of shortage of vaccine in India, the Narendra Modi led government paused exports of vaccine under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Poonawalla said the Serum Institute is unlikely be able to export vaccine till July.

“There is no clarity on vaccine export, and we also right now feel that we should not look at export for two months during the steep rise in Covid cases in India. Maybe in June-July, we could start looking at small exports starting again. Right now, we are going to prioritise the needs of the nation first,” he said.

Poonawalla, however, said Covishield will be sold at Rs. 400 a shot to states and Rs. 600 to private hospitals. The centre will continue to receive Covishield doses at Rs. 150 each.

Days ahead of a new round of vaccinations from May 1 that will include all above 18–this will require nearly two million more doses a month–the Serum Institute CEO says he expects to be able to provide 100 million doses per month after July.

Referring to the Indian government’s announcement of sanctioning of Rs 4,500 crore to Serum Institute of India to boost production of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines, Poonawalla says that his company has borrowed from banks to begin ramp-up of its vaccine immediately, instead of waiting for the government’s aid to arrive.

“The Rs. 3,000 crore amount we keep seeing in the media has been sanctioned. We believe it will come to us very soon. We have not waited but borrowed from the banks to get on with the ramp-up, with the assumption that this funding from the government will reach us very soon…this week,” Adar Poonawalla said.