The India government on Monday claimed as 'incorrect' the news report by a section of media alleging that the Centre has not placed any fresh order for Covid-19 vaccines.
"The news reports suggest that the last order placed with the two vaccine makers (100 million doses with SII and 20 million doses with Bharat Biotech) was in March 2021. These media reports are completely incorrect, and are not based on facts.," a press statement by the Union ministry of health and family welfare said.
The report that first appeared on a business daily and eventually picked up a few others said the Centre has not yet placed fresh orders with the two Indian vaccine manufacturers – Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech – even as several vaccination centres across the country reported shortages.
"The last order placed with the two vaccine makers — 100 million doses with SII and 20 million doses with Bharat Biotech — was in March. Industry sources revealed that the final tranche of deliveries of this order will be completed within the next few days," the report claimed.
However, the Centre rebutted the report to claim that a 100% advance of ₹1,732.50 crore was released to Serum Institute of India on April 28 for 11 crore doses of Covishield vaccine during May, June and July
"As on date, against the last order of 10 crore doses for supplies of Covishield vaccine, 8.744 crore doses have been delivered till 03.05.2021," the Centre said in the statement.
"Additionally, 100% advance of ₹787.50 crore (after TDS Rs. 772.50 crore) was released on 28.04.2021 to Bharat Biotech India Ltd for 5 crore Covaxin doses during May, June and July, and was received by them on 28.04.2021. As on date against the last order of 2 crore doses for supplies of Covaxin vaccine, 0.8813 crore doses have been delivered till 03.05.2021," it further read.
The development comes close on the heels of SII CEO Adar Poonawalla recently warning in an interview to Financial Times that India is likely to face vaccine shortages till July.
When Poonawalla was asked as to why he did not expand the manufacturing capacity of Covishield vaccine earlier, he noted that there were no additional orders from the government, and his company did not think it needed to make more than 1 billion doses a year.