NEW DELHI: Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has sought the central government's intervention so as to enable the firm import essential raw materials from the US for uninterrupted manufacturing and supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Pune-based SII, Prakash Kumar Singh said the US government has invoked the Defence Production Act because of which the firm is facing difficulties in importing necessary products like cell culture medias, raw material, single-use tubing assemblies and some specialty chemicals from the US.
He said in the letter that Covishield vaccine manufactured by the SII is being widely used in India and across the globe and millions of people have been vaccinated with it.
Singh further said the Serum Institute is working on many other COVID-19 vaccine projects in technical collaboration with various Institutions i.e. Novavax (US), Codagenix (US) etc. for which it depends on import of many necessary products like raw materials, consumables and components from various foreign manufacturers, especially from the US.
"Through the Defence production Act, the US government has established two prioritizing systems, Defence Priorities and Allocations System Program (DPAS) and Health Resources Priority and Allocations System (HRPAS). The HRPAS has two principal components i.e. priorities and allocations. Under the priority component, certain contracts between the government and private parties or between private parties for the production or delivery of industrial resources required to produce COVID-19 vaccine will be given priority over other contracts to facilitate expedited delivery in promotion of the US, National defence," he said in the letter.
This essentially means that if the orders from US manufacturers are rated/prioritized under the above-mentioned systems they take precedence over orders of manufacturers of other countries, Singh stated.
He said the whole world is depending on mass manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine at an uninterrupted speed and scale to end the pandemic.
"But if we cannot get timely supplies of these essential products from the US, it is going to be a serious limiting factor resulting in acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as their manufacture depends on uninterrupted supply of these raw materials, consumables and components etc," Singh said in the letter dated March 6.
"I humbly request for your kind intervention to resolve this matter in larger public interest. This will enable us to import these essential products soon from the US for uninterrupted manufacturing and supply of COVID-19 Vaccines in India and globally," he said.