Committed to doing everything possible to support the drive in the country, it says.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Tuesday said it had never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and that it was committed to doing everything possible to support the vaccination drive in the country.
“We have been working with the government tirelessly to do our best for humanity and will continue in the same spirit. This is the time for all of us to unite and work together to defeat the pandemic,” read the SII statement.
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Responding to the criticism of the decision of the government and Indian manufacturers, including the SII, to export vaccines, it said all needed to consider certain factors before arriving at any conclusion.
In January, the SII had a large stockpile of doses and the vaccination drive had started successfully, while the number of daily cases was at an all-time low. “At that stage, most people including health experts believed that India was turning the tide on the pandemic,” it said.
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“Around the same time, many other countries in the world were facing crisis and were in desperate need of help. Our government extended support wherever possible during this period. It is this spirit that had initially led to cooperation between countries when the virus first emerged in the beginning of 2020,” said the SII, adding that the cooperation also formed the basis for getting access to technology and aid for healthcare.
The SII said it was the reciprocity, wherein India helped other countries with the supply of HCQ and vaccine exports, that in turn led to support from other countries.
“We must also understand that this pandemic is not limited by geographic or political boundaries. We will not be safe till everyone globally is able to defeat this virus at a global scale. 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,” said the SII.
Another key factor was India being among the world’s two most populous countries. “A vaccination drive for such a large population cannot be completed within two-three months, as there are several factors and challenges involved. That said, it would take two-three years for the entire world population to get fully vaccinated,” the SII said.
“The SII has delivered more than 200 million doses though we received EUA [Emergency Use Authorisation] two months after the U.S. pharma companies. If we look at total doses produced and delivered, we rank amongst the top three in the world. We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India. We also hope to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year.”