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Never exported vaccines at the cost of people in India: Serum Institute
The vaccine manufacturer lamented that people do not tend to realise the fact that India is among the two most populous countries in the world
Serum Institute of India (SII) said on Tuesday that it had never exported COVID-19 vaccine at the cost of the people in India and that it remained committed to support the vaccination drive in the country.
"We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country," the vaccine producer said in a statement.
In an apparent response to criticism of India's vaccine export policy, the SII said that the pandemic is not limited by geographic or political boundaries.
“In the past few days, there has been an intense discussion on the decision of the government and Indian vaccine manufacturers, including SII to export vaccines,” it said.
"In January 2021, we had a large stockpile of vaccine doses. Our vaccination drive had started successfully and the number of daily cases being recorded were at an all-time low,” the statement said, adding that around the same time, many other countries in the world were facing an acute crisis and were in desperate need of help.
The Indian government extended support wherever possible during this period, it said. “It is this spirit that had initially led to cooperation between countries when the virus first emerged in the beginning of 2020.”
The SII pointed out the cooperation between the countries forms the basis for us getting access to technology and aid for healthcare.
"Today, it is this reciprocity, where India has helped other countries with the supply of HCQ and vaccine exports, that has in turn led to support from other countries," it said.
Stressing on the importance of vaccine export, the SII said India will not be safe until everyone globally is able to defeat this virus. “Further, as part of our global alliances, we also had commitments to COVAX, so that they could distribute the vaccines globally to end the pandemic,” the statement said.
The vaccine manufacturer lamented that people do not tend to realise the fact that India is among the two most populous countries in the world, and a vaccination drive for such a large population cannot be completed within 2-3 months, as there are several factors and challenges involved. “That said, it would take 2-3 years for the entire world population to get fully vaccinated,” it said.
The SII claimed that it had delivered more than 200 million doses, even though we received EUA (emergency use authorisation) two months after the US pharma companies.
Serum continues to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India. It also hopes to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by end of this year, the statement said.
Congress leaders led by Rahul Gandhi on Sunday put up a poster critical of the prime minister over COVID vaccine export as their Twitter profile picture and dared the government to arrest them, after police took 25 people into custody for displaying the same poster in several parts of the city.
Addressing a virtual press conference earlier this week, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had said 1.07 crore vaccine doses sent abroad were India's aid to different countries and noted that of those, 78.5 lakh were dispatched to seven neighbouring countries.