NEW DELHI: Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has alleged coming under immense pressure over supply of the Covishield vaccine.
In an interview to The Times, UK, Poonawalla confessed getting phone calls from the ‘most powerful,’ including chief ministers, business tycoons and others, demanding instant supplies of Covishield.
Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute is among the two vaccines that are currently being used in the mass inoculation drive in India.
Referring to the phone calls, Poonawalla said “Threats is an understatement. The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why anyone else should get it before them,” Poonawalla said in the interview.
Explaining the intimidatory undertones of the calls, Poonawalla says “They are saying if you don’t give us the vaccine it’s not going to be good. It’s not foul language, it’s the tone. It’s the implication of what they might do if I don’t comply. It’s coming over and basically surrounding the place and not letting us do anything unless we give in to their demands.”
Poonawalla is currently in London, having flown out before UK closed the window on arrivals from India.
“I’m staying here (London) an extended time because I don’t want to go back to that situation. Everything falls on my shoulders but I can’t do it alone…I don’t want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t supply the needs of X, Y or Z you really don’t want to guess what they are going to do,” he said.
Poonawalla indicated in the interview that his move to London is also linked to business plans to expand vaccine manufacturing to countries outside India, which may include the likes of the UK.
“There’s going to be an announcement in the next few days,” he said, when asked about Britain as one of the production bases outside India.
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