- Adar Poonawalla said SII halted the production of vaccines in December 2021
- Booster vaccines have no demand, Adar Poonawalla said
- There is general lethargy among people and they are fed up with the pandemic, Poonawalla said
Serum Institute of India (SII) has stopped the production of the Covishield vaccine as there are not many takers for COVID-19 booster doses. According to SII Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla, the vaccine manufacturer halted production in December 2021.
The total stock of Covishied vaccines available at that time was around 100 million doses, that got expired, Poonawalla said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN), he said booster vaccines have no demand as there is general lethargy among people and also because they are fed up with the pandemic.
"Since December 2021, we stopped the production (of Covishield). We had a stock of a few hundred million doses at that time and of that, 100 million doses have already expired," said Poonawalla when asked about an update on the Covishield vaccine.
He further said the SII's vaccines are allowed to be mixed.
"Now, Covovax should be allowed in two weeks. So I think they will and should probably have the policy to mix boosters. If WHO allowed it, then maybe the Indian regulator will and should allow it. But again, boosters have no demand at the moment. There is lethargy generally.
People are fed up of COVID, vaccines. To be honest, I am also fed up with it. We all are," he said.
Going forward, when people take a few shots every year, they may take anti-coronavirus vaccines and other shots together, Poonawalla said, adding, "It will become that kind of a product."
"In India, there is no culture of taking flu shots as we see it in the West. We tried when we launched a few vaccines in 2010. During the H1NI pandemic in 2011, no one took it. Flu is not something that sounds scary to people. They just do not want to take it," he said.
Covishield was produced at the SII's Pune facility with a master seed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The SII announced its partnership with Oxford University to manufacture the vaccine in April 2020.
(With inputs from PTI)
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