Amid facing backlash for exporting its Covid-19 vaccines in the backdrop of a shortage of the same in India, Serum Institute of India (SII) on Friday alleged that the Centre opened the coronavirus inoculation drive for all adults without considering the availability of the vaccines or the WHO guidelines on inoculation.
SII executive director Suresh Jadhav on Friday said that the Centre threw open the Covid-19 vaccination drive to all adults "knowing well that so much vaccine is not available" in the country.
He made the comments while speaking at an e-summit organised by Heal Health, a health advocacy and awareness platform. He further said that the Centre should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised vaccination accordingly.
Jadhav’s comments come just days after the company issued a statement defending its move to export vaccines and stating that it is committed to India’s inoculation drive.
"SII has delivered more than 200 million doses (to India), even though we received EUA (emergency use authorisation) two months after the US pharma companies…Serum continues to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India. It also hopes to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by end of this year, the company said in a statement, earlier this week.
Initially, 300 million people were to be administered the vaccine for which 600 million doses were required. But before we reached the target, the government opened vaccination for all above 45 years followed by those aged 18 and above, Jadhav said.
"That is the greatest lesson we learnt. We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously," added Jadhav.
Jadhav stressed that vaccination is essential but even after getting jabbed, people are susceptible to the infection.
"Therefore, be cautious and follow COVID preventive guidelines. Although the double mutant of Indian variants are neutralised, yet variants can create problems in vaccination," he said.
"As far as the selection of vaccine is concerned, as per CDC and NIH data, whatever vaccine is available can be taken provided it is licensed by the regulatory body. And it is too early to say which vaccine is efficacious and which is not,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)