Thursday, 8 April 2021
The UK-headquartered drug firm AstraZeneca has served a legal notice to its manufacturing partner, Pune-based Serum Institute of India, over delays in the supply of its Covid-19 vaccine. The notice comes after Serum Institute delayed shipment of vaccines to the UK, and later did not meet its obligations to other countries that are part of the Covax programme.
Serum Institute has attributed the delay to the Centre’s decision to halt vaccine exports, while its CEO, Adar Poonawalla, according to media reports, said SII would prioritise domestic needs temporarily. In mid-March, the Centre decided to go slow on vaccine exports amidst a huge surge in Covid-19 cases. Demand for vaccines has also jumped after the government broadened its immunisation drive, relaxing the eligibility criteria for the 45-years-plus age group from April 1. A majority of vaccines being administered in India are Covishield (manufactured by SII); the remainder are Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Serum has so far supplied around 100 million doses to the Centre, while it has exported 60 million doses.
Company sources expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved soon, and that the government was aware of it. With a limited supply of vaccines, and demand soaring due to rising Covid-19 cases in certain countries, shortages and supply constraints are being witnessed in many parts of the world.