A day after a war of words, Adar Poonawala and Krishna Ella, came together to issue a statement on behalf of the two companies on the combined intent and said, “The more important task in front of us (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India) is saving the lives in India and the world.”
“Vaccines are a global public health good and they have the power to save lives and accelerate the return to economic normalcy at the earliest,” they added,
“Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued for emergency use authorisation in India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply, and distribution, such that populations that need the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines,” they said.
I would like to clarify two matters; as there is confusion in the public domain, exports of vaccines are permitted to all countries and a joint public statement clearing up any recent miscommunication with regards to Bharat Biotech will be made.
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 5, 2021
This comes after SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told reporters that there are only three vaccines globally that have proven their efficacy — Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — while other COVID-19 vaccines have only proven to be safe, just like ‘water’ on January 3.
The following day, Bharat Biotech CEO Krishna Ella hit back, saying that there’s a conspiracy at hand. According to him, Poonawalla’s comments were just a ploy to create a backlash against Indian companies.
Ella also pointed out that the reason behind Serum’s speedy Emergency Usage Approval (EUA) was due to a large number of candidates it was able to test in the UK. Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, has a large repository of data for Indian participants with 25,000 people.
Today, Poonawalla highlighted that the tiff between him and Ella was only a ‘miscommunication’. He also clarified that while SII will be providing India with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine; it will continue to hold true to its pledge of providing global access as well.
SII is a part of the COVAX, a global partnership launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in April, to ensure that people in all corners of the world have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, critics have pointed out that the disparity between high-income countries and low-income countries is only widening. The most recent tally by the people’s vaccine alliance — a group which consists of Oxfam, Amnesty International, Global Justice Now and others — shows that wealthy nations account for 14% fo the global population, but have hoarded around 53% of the global COVID-19 supply of vaccines so far.