Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday urged Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla to give priority to the state in providing its anti-coronavirus vaccine as the government was ready to purchase doses from the Pune-based company.
He said the Maharashtra government was even ready to purchase Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.
Talking to the media here, Tope said since Poonawalla hails from Pune, he should think about Maharashtra and give priority to his home state in allocating Covishield, the anti-coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII).
He said Serum Institute has declared it would provide vaccine doses only in July and August.
We have started the vaccination programme for the 18 -44 age group people, but due a shortage of vaccines, we are unable to accelerate the programme, he said.
Due to a “mini-lockdown” currently in force in Maharashtra, COVID-19 cases are declining in the state, the Health Minister said.
On Monday, Maharashtra reported 48,621 new COVID-19 cases and 567 deaths.
He said in view of the rising cases in the country, US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci has suggested a lockdown for a few weeks in India as an immediate step to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
It is up to the Indian government totake a decision on the issue (nationwide lockdown) and the Maharashtra government will follow the direction of the Centre, Tope said.
Earlier in the day, Poonawalla said his firm cannot ramp up production overnight as vaccine making is a specialised process.
SII has orders from the Government of India to supply 11 crore more doses over the next few months on top of 15 crore already supplied, he said in a statement.
Another 11 crore doses will be supplied to states and private hospitals in the next few months, he said.