Legal notice served to SII by AstraZeneca over delays in vaccine supply
AstraZeneca,the UK-headquartered drug firm has sent 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 SII 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 prioritize 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 immunization 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 is 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.