Adar Poonawalla, head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) in an interview with a London newspaper has admitted that he is receiving threat calls from politicians and “powerful men” demanding quick delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine that his firm has been producing. While complaining of being “vilified and blamed”, Poonawalla indicated at beginning a new vaccine production unit in the United Kingdom.
The threats he’s receiving from people demanding the quick supplies of the vaccine is an “understatement”.
“some of the most powerful men in India”, including “Chief Ministers…, heads of business conglomerates and others”, have given him calls, he said.
“The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why anyone else should get it before them,” Poonawalla told The Times.
“They are saying if you don’t give us the vaccine is 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,” Poonawalla said.
Poonawalla flew to London to spend some time with his wife and children hours before the UK banned flights from India eight days ago, to escape the grim situation in the country. He said he is going to stay in Britain for an extended time as he doesn’t want to go back to that situation.
When asked about who is responsible for the current India’s condition Poonawalla said: “If I give you the right answer, or any answer, my head would be chopped off… I can’t comment on the elections or Kumbh Mela. It’s too sensitive… I don’t think even God could have forecast it was going to get this bad.”
“They are saying if you don’t give us the vaccine it’s not going to be good,” he added.
Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla, who is also the chairman of the Poonawalla Group, told an Indian leading newspaper that Adar goes to various places whenever work demands and this time has taken his family with him.
SII has produced the Covid-19 vaccine in association with AstraZeneca and Oxford University and by far has supplied 90 per cent of the vaccine doses that have been given to Indian nationals so far. However, in the last few weeks, there has been a shortage of vaccine supply in the country, amidst a swelling demand.