Getting Threatening Calls From Very Powerful People, May Start Production In Britain: Adar Poonawalla

Getting Threatening Calls From Very Powerful People, May Start Production In Britain: Adar PoonawallaAdar Poonawalla (Twitter)

In a disturbing revelation, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Serum Institute of India (SII), Adar Poonawala told The Times that he has been receiving large number of menacing phone calls for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reportedly, the callers include chief ministers of Indian states, heads of business conglomerates and others demanding instant supplies of Covishield vaccine.

Calling the threatening phone calls the “worst thing”, Poonawala said that “‘Threats’ is an understatement.. the level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming."

Just a few days ago, Poonawala was given Y category security from the Government of India. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will provide him the cover.

This decision by the Union government came after the director, government and regulatory affairs at SII, Prakash Kumar Singh, wrote to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah requesting security for Poonawala.

In his letter, Singh talked about the threats that Poonawala had received from various groups over supplies of the institute's coronavirus vaccine.

The SII, world’s largest manufacturer of the vaccine, lately has been the centre of attention in the press over the price of the vaccine. Various sections and political parties have been demanding a lower price. Responding to the demands, the Pune-based pharma major decided to decrease the price of its vaccine for the states from Rs 400 per dose to Rs 300 per dose.

SII will supply the vaccine at the rate of Rs 150 per dose to the union government for the first 100 million deliveries, and as per the union health ministry, these will be provided completely free of costs to the states.

The Supreme Court also jumped into the matter batting for "equity among the states when it comes to vaccine distribution”.

The court suggested compulsory licensing and that the government can consider procuring all the vaccines by itself and then de-centralising the distribution mechanism through the states.

‘’We cannot have a private sector model in a crisis of this magnitude. We have to follow the national immunisation model. Don’t leave it to the manufacturers. How can private manufacturers ensure equity,” said the apex court.

It also directed the union government to share details of the direct and indirect grants provided to the two vaccine manufacturers—Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.

Poonawala’s interview is gaining attention on social media, and users blamed the misinformed and ideological campaigns run by political parties and media channels over free vaccines to have contributed to the pressure on the SII CEO.

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