MUMBAI: Defending its decision to export vaccines, Serum Institute of India (SII) said on Tuesday that it was based on several factors, including the build-up of a large stockpile in January, while cases were at an all-time low in India, and in the spirit of mutual cooperation.
“We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and remain committed to do everything we can in support of the vaccination drive in the country,” the company said in a statement.
Faced with vaccine shortages, the company as well as the government has faced flak over large quantities of exports at a time when India needed doses to vaccinate its population against the deadly virus that was first spotted in China.
The company plans to resume deliveries to Covax, and honour its commitments to other countries by the end of this year. “The cooperation between countries also forms the basis for us getting access to technology and aid for healthcare,” the SII statement said.
The support and cooperation between countries has also shaped India’s pandemic response since its start in 2020. “Today, it is this reciprocity, where India has helped other countries with the supply of HCQ and vaccine exports, that has in turn led to support from other countries.”
It was important at that time (January) as several countries were facing an acute crisis and were in desperate need of help. “Our government extended support wherever possible during this period. It is this spirit that had initially led to cooperation between countries when the virus first emerged in the beginning of 2020.”
The company said it delivered 200 million doses till now, making it amongst the top three manufacturers globally. This is despite the fact that it received emergency authorisation approval two months after the US pharma companies. “We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India,” it said.