Debunking news reports that India has not placed fresh orders for Covid vaccines with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat BioTech since March, the Union government on Monday said such reports are completely incorrect and are not based on facts.
The media reports suggested that the last order placed with the two vaccine makers (100 million doses with SII and 20 million doses with Bharat Biotech) was in March.
"It is clarified that 100 per cent advance of Rs 1,732.50 crore was released to Serum Institute of India (SII) on April 28 for 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine during May, June and July, and was received by them on April 28. As on date, against the last order of 10 crore doses for supplies of Covishield vaccine, 8.744 crore doses have been delivered till May 3," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.
Additionally, 100 per cent advance of Rs 787.50 crore was released on April 28 to Bharat Biotech India Ltd (BBIL) for 5 crore Covaxin doses during May, June and July, and was received by them on the same day.
"As on date against the last order of 2 crore doses for supplies of Covaxin vaccine, 0.8813 crore doses have been delivered till 03.05.2021. Hence to say that fresh orders have not been placed by Government of India is not correct," the ministry said.
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla also issues a statement, saying that his company has received orders for 26 crore doses.
"As of today, we received total orders of over 26 crore doses of which we supplied more than 15 crore doses. We have also got 100 per cent advance of Rs 1,732.50 crore by GoI for the next tranche of 11 crore doses in the next few months. Another 11 crore doses would be supplied in the second channel for states and private hospitals in the next few months," Poonawalla said in a statement.
Earlier, the Financial Times reported Poonawalla as saying that vaccine shortage could continue in India till July.
The production is expected to increase from about 60 million-70 million doses a month to 100 million in July, Poonawalla was quoted as saying in the report.
When the number of new infections began declining in January, "everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic". The authorities did not expect to confront a second wave," the report quoted him as saying.
Poonawalla said that his comments may have been "misinterpreted".
"First of all, vaccine manufacturing is a specialised process, it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight. We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task. Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling in relatively smaller populations," he explained.