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Have asked government for financial assistance to ramp up vaccine production: Adar Poonawalla

Updated : April 06, 2021 09:03 PM IST

The central government has made it mandatory for all its employees over the age of 45 to get vaccinated. The latest data from the health ministry shows that vaccinations are inching closer to the government's target of 50 lakh jabs a day.

According to data over the last 24 hours, 43 lakh shots were administered, making it the highest daily number since inoculations began.

Starting tomorrow Network18 and Federal Bank will launch 'Sanjeevani - A Shot of Life' a campaign that aims to reach every Indian with relevant information about vaccination against COVID-19, to create awareness and reduce vaccine hesitancy. The initiative, with the help of Apollo 24x7, will take the message across the country.

The world's largest vaccine maker - the Serum Institute of India - has been at the forefront of the production of the Covishield vaccine in the country. The company is now aiming to increase its production capacity from the current 60 million doses per month to 100 million doses from May.

In an exclusive interview to CNBC-TV18 Managing Editor Shereen Bhan, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India said, "The speed at which vaccination is happening in India is phenomenal. In fact we will come to a point where you cannot vaccinate more than 2-3 million people per day because of the capacity that currently exists in the country of vaccine manufacturing. Government is working very closely with vaccine producers like Serum and many others to see how they can financially aid and find other innovative ways of ramping up our capacity. So by the month of June, we hope to increase our capacity even more than where we are today."

"The initial plan was to make about 70 million doses a month of Covishield and in addition to that the Novovax product which would be launched in the second or third quarter of this year, that is how we were going to make the billion doses that we had announced and we are well on track for that. In fact we may even cross a billion doses very easily if we were to get an additional facility in Serum Institute with the government's help to do that."

He expects to launch Covovax by September.

"We are targeting September launch for Covovax at the earliest, it is not going to be sooner because we just started our enrolment in trials for Covovax. Between September and November would be the likely date but the earliest we are targeting is September."

Serum Institute is in talks with RDIF for Sputnik tie-up but no agreement yet, Poonawalla said.

"I have been talking to the head of RDIF and we have been discussing on how we can collaborate. I think may be in a month or two we can see some development on that but haven't really agreed fully on anything as of yet. We were very pleased to hear that other vaccine and pharmaceutical companies are tying up to make Sputnik because we really need all the vaccines that we can possibly make for India and other countries. We will at some point definitely make Sputnik vaccine as well, the question is when."

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