We did not boost covid vaccine production because ‘there were no orders’: SII chief

News Network
May 3, 2021

May 3: Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla has said that India’s Covid-19 vaccine shortage would continue through July, reported The Financial Times. Poonawalla said that the production of the vaccines is expected to increase from 60-70 million doses (6-7 crore) to 100 million (10 crore) by then.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that his company has been maligned by politicians and critics over shortages in vaccines. He said that the government, not the Serum Institute, was responsible for policy decisions.

While the Centre launched the third phase of the immunisation drive, covering citizens above 18 years, several states have expressed their inability to conduct the inoculation programme as they do not have sufficient vaccines. Many states are awaiting more stock from drug companies.

Currently, India is reeling under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s infrastructure is under severe strain as cases are surging at an alarming rate. India has registered more than 3 lakh cases for over 10 consecutive days, once even crossing the 4-lakh mark.

Poonawalla told The Financial Times that the authorities did not expect that it will have to face a second wave of the pandemic when new coronavirus cases had declined. “Everybody really felt that India had started to turn the tide on the pandemic,” he said.

The Serum Institute, which is the local maker of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s vaccine, also faced criticism for charging state governments and hospitals a higher rate for the vaccine doses than it offered to the Centre. While the company was selling the jabs to the central government at Rs 150 per dose, it was charging states Rs 300 and private hospitals, Poonawalla had brought down the rates from Rs 400 for states and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals after the criticism, calling it a “philanthropic gesture”.

“I’ve been victimised very unfairly and wrongly,” he claimed. Poonawalla further said that he did not boost the vaccine production capacity because “there were no orders” and the company did not think it needed to produce more than 1 billion, or 100 crore, doses in a year.

Experts believe that India should have invested in boosting manufacturing capacity earlier and secured enough vaccine shots. “It is absolutely essential that you need to have something to deliver, it’s common sense,” Chandrakant Lahariya, a New Delhi-based public health expert, told The Financial Times. She added that the government has not been transparent on its vaccine policy.

In April, the Centre had given a loan to the Serum Institute to help it convert a production line to make more vaccines. “We have just done this right now to address the ridiculous shortage that the nation, and obviously now the world even, has,” said Poonawalla.

Last week, Poonwalla had said that he has left the country for London because of threats related to the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. Later, the Serum Institute chief said he would be returning to India. However, he told The Financial Times that he was not in London over safety concerns but for normal business.

Meanwhile, India on Monday registered 3,68,147 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the country to 19,925,604 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the second consecutive day when the daily infection count dropped after crossing the 4-lakh mark. The toll climbed by 3,417 to 2,18,959. There are 34,13,642 active cases and as many as 1,62,93,003 patients have recovered from the infection.

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News Network
September 16,2021

Oscarlast.jpg

Bengaluru, Sept 16: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday paid last respects to veteran party leader and former union minister Oscar Fernandes at the Saint Patrick’s Church in the city.

Rahul Gandhi was received by Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Congress President D.K. Shivakumar and other top Congress leaders at Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL). He directly reached the residence of Oscar Fernandes on Rest House Road in Bengaluru and met his family members.

Later, he attended the final blessing ceremony organized at Saint Patrick’s church for family and invited guests. He sat through the final ceremony in the church and consoled Oscar Fernandes’ family members.

AICC General Secretary and Karnataka In-Charge Randeep Surjewala and other top leaders also paid their last respects.

Veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes passed away on September 13 at a private hospital. An octogenarian, Oscar Fernandes was being treated for a head injury he suffered when he was practicing yoga at his residence. 

Doctors had conducted a surgery on him to remove a clot in his head. However, he never came back from the state of unconsciousness. Fernandes was also undergoing dialysis at regular intervals. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

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News Network
September 19,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 19: Former Union minister and BJP’s Bengaluru North MP D V Sadananda Gowda today filed a complaint with the cybercrime police after a sleaze video purportedly showing him went viral on social media.

Taking to Twitter, the senior BJP leader said that it is not him in the video and added that the video has been created with the intention of maligning his image.

"A morphed (deep fake) video of mine has been making rounds on social media. I would like to inform that, it is not me in the video, its created to malign my impeccable image by my adversaries with vested interest," he said in a tweet.

He said he filed a cyber complaint and added that he has faith in the system and is hopeful that the culprits will be nabbed soon.

"Also, I as per the injunction order of the court, anyone forwarding/uploading the content will be punishable as per the relevant sections of the law. If you know of anyone doing the same, kindly inbox me," he said in another tweet.

A complaint has been filed with the concerned authorities, to arrest and punish the guilty parties immediately, he said.

"Malefactors, who are upset by my rise on the political front, have brought out a fake, lewd video of mine for my fall. The video has become viral on social media, which pains me," he said in a tweet.

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News Network
September 5,2021

Kabul, Sept 5: Over 600 Taliban fighters have been killed in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Panjshir, Sputnik reported quoting the Afghan rebel forces on Saturday.

"About 600 Taliban have been liquidated in various districts of Panjshir since morning. More than 1,000 Taliban have been captured or surrendered themselves," the rebel forces' spokesperson Fahim Dashti tweeted.

The spokesperson further added that the Taliban had problems with getting supplies from other Afghan provinces, Sputnik reported.

Meanwhile, the Taliban offensive against Panjshir rebels has slowed down due to the presence of land mines in the area.

A Taliban source said fighting is continuing in Panjshir but the advance had been slowed by landmines on the road to the capital Bazarak and the provincial governor's compound, reported Al Jazeera.

Panjshir is the stronghold of the so called ‘National Resistance Front’, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of late ex-Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and ex-Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who had declared himself caretaker President.

In Panjshir, former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh holed out alongside Ahmad Massoud, admitted the perilous position of the National Resistance Front.

"The situation is difficult, we have been under invasion," Mr Saleh earlier said in a video message. "The resistance is continuing and will continue."

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