Vaccine exports permitted: Serum CEO

No timeline for Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent | Published: 16:42, Jan 05,2021 | Updated: 00:08, Jan 06,2021


Serum Institute of India chief executive officer Adar Poonawala has said that exports of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by the organisation to all countries are permitted.

In a tweet on Tuesday he said, ‘I would like to clarify two matters; as there is confusion in the public domain, exports of vaccines are permitted to all countries and a joint public statement clearing up any recent miscommunication with regards to Bharat Biotech will be made.’

But he has not clarified when the export will begin or if the vaccine will be  made available to Bangladesh in late January or early February as per a tripartite deal.

The deal has been signed between Serum, the Bangladesh government and Serum’s local vendor Beximco Pharmaceuticals for the supply of three crore doses of the Oxford University-developed vaccine to Bangladesh. 

Uncertainty and confusion sprang up over the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Bangladesh on Monday as a news report quoting the Serum CEO said that the Indian government slapped a ban for several months on the export of the vaccine being manufactured by the private entity.

Poonawalla on Sunday told The Associated Press that the vaccine was granted emergency authorisation by the Indian regulator on the condition that Serum would not export it in order to ensure that vulnerable populations in India were protected.

‘We can only give [the vaccine] to the government of India at the moment,’ Poonawalla said.

Against this backdrop, many in Bangladesh doubted that the vaccine would be available here on time.

Bangladesh health minister and Beximco officials hoped that the stipulated vaccine doses would arrive in the country on time.

About an hour after Poonawala’s tweet, Serum and Bharat Biotech in a joint statement said that vaccines were a global public health good, adding that the two companies intend to develop, manufacture and supply COVID-19 vaccines for India and globally.

The statement reads: ‘Mr. Adar Poonawala and Dr. Krishna Ella [Bharat Biotech chairman], jointly on behalf of the two Companies, today communicated their combined intent to develop, manufacture and supply the COVID-19 vaccines for India and globally.’

The more important task in front of them, they said, is saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world.

‘Vaccines are a global public health good and they have the power to save lives and accelerate the return to economic normalcy at the earliest,’  Poonawala and Ella said.

‘Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued EUA (emergency use authorization) in India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines,’ said the joint statement.

‘Both our Companies are fully engaged in this activity and consider it our duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines. Each of our Companies continue their COVID-19 vaccines development activities as planned,’ it went on.

‘We are fully aware of the importance of vaccines for people and countries alike, we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our COVID-19 vaccines,’ the statement concluded.

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