Covid-19 India update: Bottlenecks in raw materials supply unlikely to impact vaccine production, says Serum Institute

Serum Institute is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine under the brand name Covishield.

Coronavirus vaccine in India: The bottlenecks that are present in the supply of some raw materials required for the production of COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to impact the production of doses at the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in the immediate future, according to a report in The Indian Express. The report cited people familiar with the issue as saying that the company has adequate supplies to ensure that it continues to manufacture doses at the current capacity for the next six months. Serum Institute is playing a key role in providing Covid-19 vaccines to not only India but also to other countries across the globe.

The company is hoping that within the next few months, these bottlenecks would be sorted out.

Recently, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute, had said that the restriction on the export of some items by the US was impacting the scaling up of production of vaccines. He added that he had been focusing on supplying the vaccine via the Covax facilities, but restrictions by the US would be a “serious limiting factor” to that. The institute has stockpiled doses of vaccine but the manufacturers still require things like filters and bags among others.

The Covax facility is a WHO-backed global platform aimed at providing coronavirus vaccines to all countries adequately at affordable prices. Serum Institute is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine under the brand name Covishield and is supplying these globally via Covax as well as its own agreements.

Poonawalla had said that since receiving authorisation in January, the institute had shipped 90 million doses to a whopping 51 nations within a span of two months. However, the institute is still not producing at its full capacity. At present, it is manufacturing 50 million doses a month, but it has been planning to double the production. However, in the absence of a smooth flow of raw materials, the institute cannot scale up production to 100 million doses a month. These raw materials are mostly procured from New Zealand, Australia, and the US, and while there have been no issues in getting raw materials from Australia and New Zealand, some emergency legal provisions in the US to curb the export of these items are causing an issue.

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