CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), and the prominent Indian manufacturer of AstraZeneca vaccine, Adar Poonawalla, has allegedly taken off to London. This happens shortly after Poonawalla claims to be ‘threatened’ by ‘powerful Indian corporate leaders’ and ‘chief ministers’ regarding vaccine production and supply.
In an interview with The Times UK, Poonawalla, whose Covishield is one of the two vaccination in India, bewailed about the expectation and aggression he faced in the country. “Threats is an understatement. The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming,” he told the newspaper when he even received Y-level government security a week ago.
As per Indian government officials, the protection has been given to him in a view of “potential threats” to him. The protection includes 4-5 Armed commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) being with him every time he travels anywhere in the country.
He continued, “Everything falls on my shoulders but I can’t do it alone. I don’t want to be in a situation where you are just trying to do your job, and just because you can’t supply the needs of X, Y, or Z you really don’t want to guess what they are going to do.”
Poonawalla took off to London before the United Kingdom laid restrictions on citizens flying from India. “I am staying here for an extended time because I don’t want to go back to that situation,” the 40-year-old said.
Talking about the alleged repercussion of not providing the vaccines to the bigwigs, he said, “They are saying if you don’t give us the vaccine it’s not going to be good. It’s not foul language. It’s the tone. It’s the implication of what they might do if I don’t comply. It’s taking control.
It’s coming over and basically surrounding the place and not letting us do anything unless we give in to their demands.” SII, which came to public light due to their vaccine supply, manufactures the COVID-19 vaccine that is developed by Oxford University and Pharmaceuticals Company AstraZeneca. SII is now apparently eyeing producing Novavax, which is developed by an America-based company by the same name.
The once-proud man, who felt, “a proud sense and feeling that people were depending on me and I was doing my best to save and protect the nation and the world,” is now, “disheartened by the criticism he is getting.” Poonawala feels his company is not being appreciated and supported but vilified and blamed. He further revealed that his company has hired around a thousand new employees and running the facilities for 20 hours daily in order to boost up vaccine production.
Additionally, plans to start production in other countries as well in order to meet the supply commitments. “There’s going to be an announcement in the next few days,” he added hinting at the increase in production capacity of his vaccine.