Biocon Head Conveys Dismay over Covid Vaccine Scarcity

Individuals between 18 and 44 are now also eligible for the jabs but the shortage is impeding the process

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the Executive Chairman of Biocon, has expressed concern about the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and has asked the government for more transparency about their availability so that people can patiently wait their turn. India announced the expansion of its Covid-19 vaccination drive by allowing its large population aged over 18 to get inoculated from May 1.

“Very concerned about why vaccines are in such short supply. Can we please know where the 70 million doses are being deployed every month? We need better transparency to avoid suspense. If a timetable of supplies is made public people can patiently wait their turn,” Mazumdar-Shaw said in a tweet on Tuesday while tagging the health ministry.

The Union Ministry of Health noted earlier this month that a 100% advance of Rs 1,732.50 crore were issued to the Serum Institute of India (SII) on April 28 for 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine during May, June, and July, in response to media reports alleging that the centre had not put any new order for Covid-19 vaccines. According to the ministry, 8.744 crore doses of Covishield vaccine have been supplied as of May 3 against a previous order of 10 crore doses. The government’s comment was backed up by SII, which said it had received the orders.

The ministry had further noted that 100 per cent advance of Rs 787.50 crore was released on April 28 to Bharat Biotech India Ltd (BBIL) for five crore Covaxin doses during May, June and July. Bharat Biotech Joint Managing Director Suchitra Ella confirmed in a tweet that the vaccine major has commenced direct supply of ‘Covaxin’ to 14 states, including Delhi and Maharashtra, with effect from May 1. The Hyderabad-based firm has started supplying its Covid-19 treatment vaccine to the states based on the allocations received by the central government, she had noted.

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