US And Europe Have Banned Export Of Critical Raw Materials Needed To Manufacture Covid Vaccines: Adar Poonawalla

US And Europe Have Banned Export Of Critical Raw Materials Needed To Manufacture Covid Vaccines: Adar PoonawallaCovid-19 vaccine - representative image (Twitter)

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said that the US and European nations are withholding critical raw materials required by the vaccine manufacture to produce the Covishield inoculation, India Today has reported.

Poonawalla said that he understands the growing demand to retain all Made-in-India vaccines for Indians and cited the example of Europe and the US banning exports of vaccines and raw materials which is impacting global vaccine manufacturers.

"We have not banned exports, we have prioritised our country for the next two months, whereas Europe and the US have banned the exports of raw materials and vaccines...US needs to have a global perspective and not ban raw materials", said Poonawalla.

"By banning certain raw materials, companies like SII and many others will not be able to scale up to the extent we would want to. Fortunately, the ban of raw materials is not affecting Covishield but it is affecting Covovax, the Novavax candidate, which I am hoping to stockpile from next week", he added.

Covovax is the second Covid-19 vaccine which SII is working on and the bridging studies for the same have begun. SII hopes to get a license for it by September-October.

As per an Indian Express report, these raw materials include crucial components like plastic bags, filters and certain media which are used in the manufacturing process of Covovax. This raw material shortage has temporarily halved SII's capacity, even as the manufacturer aims to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine Novavax this year.

"That is one thing we are really struggling with in the short term because we need this now. We don't need it after six months or a year because by that time, we'd have developed other suppliers", Poonawalla was quoted as saying.

Poonawalla has also expressed confidence that both Covovax and Covishield have over 95 per cent efficacy against hospitalisation, which meant virtually all patients who may contract Covid-19 would not need to enter a hospital and will only experience mild symptoms.

SII is currently producing 6 to 6.5 crore Covishield vaccines per month and hopes to almost double it to 10 to 11 crore by June.

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