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Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute declares a truce, pledge for the smooth rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

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A day after Bharat Biotech slammed Serum Institute of Indias CEO Adar Poonawalla for his ‘water’ comment about some COVID-19 vaccines, both the vaccine makers on Tuesday jointly pledged for a smooth rollout of the antidote in the country and the world, saying saving lives and livelihoods was the most important task for them.

In a joint statement posted on their respective Twitter accounts, the companies said Serum Institute Chief Executive Officer Poonawalla and Bharat Biotech Chairman Krishna Ella communicated their combined intent to develop, manufacture and supply the COVID-19 vaccines.

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They said the more important task in front of them was saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world. The vaccines were a global public health good and have the power to save lives and accelerate the return to economic normalcy at the earliest, the statement said.

We are fully aware of the importance of vaccines for the people and countries alike, we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

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The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and Covaxin of the city-based Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.

Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued emergency use authorization in the country, the focus was on manufacturing, supply, and distribution, such that people who need it the most receive high-quality, safe, and efficacious vaccines, the two companies said.

“Both our companies are fully engaged in this activity and consider it our duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines. Each of our companies continues their COVID-19 vaccine development activities as planned,” the joint statement said.

Without naming Poonawalla who had called vaccines other than that of Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines “just like water”, Krishna Ella on Monday in a media briefing slammed the Pune-based vaccine maker for the remarks.

“We do 200 percent honest clinical trials and yet we receive backlash. If I am wrong, tell me. Some companies have branded me like water,” Ella had said.

Poonawalla on Tuesday tweeted that there would be a statement clearing up miscommunication with regard to Bharat Biotech.

“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,” he said.

Covaxin is currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials involving 24,000 volunteers.

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