Poonawalla warns against business-as-usual approach as ‘pandemic not behind us yet’

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla believes the Covid-19 pandemic is not behind us yet. On Friday, he warned against the return to the business-as-usual approach, saying, “we can’t afford to put a price tag on the life of a citizen.”

Poonawalla defended his call for lowering the vaccination gap to six months from the present nine months to ensure that people don’t see again the pains they underwent in the first two waves of the pandemic, and not for making money, as he has made already enough, reported by PTI.

He said, “I have also offered vaccines for free to avoid waste, which I wouldn’t have done if my objective is money.”

“My point is that we can’t put a price tag on the life of a person be it an adult or a child. So, taking decisions on time as we did during the second wave is the need of the hour when it comes to booster doses and jabbing the kids,” Poonawalla said.

Poonawalla pointed out that ‘unfortunately’ for the key people who are supposed to be making decisions on time, the committees are supposed to be meeting on time, it seems “there is no urgency any longer.”

The chief executive believes that the momentum of the past that brought us so far here is lost, adding, “as you said it seems for them, it’s business as usual.”

The CEO also took note of his firm, Serum Institute of India stopping production from December 31, 2021, just to avoid waste.

He outlined that there is a spike in vaccine fatigue among the public as the main reason for the low off-take of the vaccines even after the firm has massively slashed the price from ₹600 to ₹225 a dose.

At present, the firm is sitting on over 200 million vials, the CEO pointed out.

Talking about the need to lower the gap between two doses to six months from nine-month, Poonawalla stated that globally, many studies have shown that the antibody goes down when the vaccine gap is increased.

On vaccination for 7-11 year-olds, the CEO highlighted that they are waiting for the government nod, which has not come in yet despite the Covovax vaccine getting the regulatory approvals long ago, and it has also been in supply to Europe and Australia since long.

Stating that though the government, as a whole, recognises the importance of healthcare, however, he also added, “it seems the urgency has been lost.”

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