THE Head of the Serum Institute of India (SII), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of coronavirus vaccines, has said its production capacity is “very stressed”.
The SII had been supplying vaccines around the world, including to the Covax scheme for middle and low income countries. But India has put a temporarily halt on these exports.
India has a major challenge inoculating its own population.
“We are prioritising the needs of India”, said Adar Poonawalla, the head of SII said in an interview on Indian television, “but added we are still short of being able to supply every Indian.”
As of 7 April, around 85 million doses had been administered nationally, and the programme was recently extended to include all those aged 45 and above.
The government says vaccination will not yet be extended to wider groups because of a “limited supply” until July. The western state of Maharashtra has been reporting the highest number of cases in the country and it’s health minister has raised concerns about current vaccine stocks running very low.
Similar shortages have been reported elsewhere.
So far, the SII has an agreement to supply 166 million doses to the Indian government, with another firm, Bharat Biotech, supplying 10 million doses.
India also has licensing deals with the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute to produce 200 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine.
These will be produced by Indian manufacturers, for both the Indian market and for export.