New Delhi: A day after Bharat Biotech chief publicly lashed out at the Serum Institute of India (SII), both companies Tuesday released a joint statement to “pledge towards a smooth rollout of Covid-19 vaccines to India and the world”.
Bharat Biotech’s chairman and managing director Dr Krishna Ella Monday slammed the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial in the UK, saying that it gave “paracetamol doses” to its volunteers to suppress the side-effects. The company also called the Oxford trial “lousy”.
But in the joint statement, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla and Dr Ella conveyed their combined intent to develop, manufacture and supply the Covid-19 vaccines for India and overseas.
“The more important task in front of them is saving the lives and livelihoods of populations 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,” the statement said.
Poonawalla tweeted the joint statement and wrote: “This should clarify any miscommunication. We are all united in the fight against this pandemic.”
This should clarify any miscommunication. We are all united in the fight against this pandemic. https://t.co/oeII0YOXEH
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 5, 2021
Both vaccines — Covishield by SII and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech — were approved by the Drug Controller General of India Sunday.
‘Our duty to ensure smooth rollout of vaccines’
With the approval of Covishield and Covaxin, the focus is now on their supply and distribution so that those who need it the most receive high quality, safe and effective vaccines.
The joint statement read, “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 continue their Covid-19 vaccines development activities as planned.
“We are fully aware of the importance of vaccines for people and countries alike,” they said, adding that “we hereby communicate our joint pledge to provide global access for our Covid-19 vaccines”.
Dr Ella Monday expressed his anger over Poonawalla’s comment that only the vaccines of Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca were effective, while others were “safe just like water”.
In a press conference, Ella responded to the allegation calling the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial lousy.
Without naming SII, Ella in the virtual press brief said: “We do 200 per cent honest clinical trials and yet we receive backlash. If I am wrong, tell me. Some companies have branded me (our vaccine) like ‘water’. I want to deny that. We are scientists.”
Claiming that Covaxin has shown the lowest side-effects, Ella said the company has noticed less than 10 per cent adverse reactions during trials.
“Despite doing one of the largest ever trials conducted in India and probably, also in the developing world, we are facing backlash,” he said, adding that the Indian drug regulator won’t allow any company to do a clinical trial in a “lousy” manner.