- Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute pledged to work for "smooth" rollout
- "More important task is saving lives, livelihoods," they said
- Covaxin, Covishield were cleared by drug regulator DCGI on Sunday
Two firms whose coronavirus vaccines got approval from the national drug regulator this week, pledged to work for a "smooth rollout" of the vaccines today. "The more important task in front of them is saving the lives and livelihoods of populations in India and the world," read a statement issued by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, pulling away from a controversy that surfaced over the efficacy of one of the vaccines.
"Now that two COVID-19 vaccines have been issued EUA (emergency use authorization) in India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines," the 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," the vaccine makers added.
Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, which received emergency approval for use in "clinical trial mode" has faced criticism over its lack of data on effectiveness. The vaccine is still in its third phase of clinical trial, and many including opposition parties, have questioned the government over the clearance given to it.
Yesterday, the chairman of Bharat Biotech Dr Krishna Ella had hit out at critics, saying "We don't deserve this backlash".
"Don't accuse us of inexperience. We are a global company... have manufactured 16 vaccines. It is not correct to say we are not transparent with data. We conduct clinical trials in many countries, including the UK. The point is we are not an Indian company... but a global one," he said at a virtual press conference.
"We have published in a lot of journals. We were the first to identify the Zika virus and the first to file a global patent for the Zika vaccine and the Chikungunya vaccine. It is not correct to say that we are not transparent with data... we don't deserve the backlash," Dr Ella had added.
Ahead of the joint statement today, Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla had tweeted, "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".
Serum Institute's Covishield, which was developed by the Oxford University and pharma major AstraZenca, has been found to be 70.42 per cent effective in worldwide trials. Trials in India have reflected similar results the country's drug regulator has said.
Asked to comment on the efficacy of Covaxin, Dr Balram Bhargava, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, had told NDTV, ''The indicators are that it has a very high efficacy,'' but declined to provide any specific detail. An efficacy report, he said, ''would be (available) within weeks.''