Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has moved to further explain comments made last week to British newspaper The Times - in which he spoke about "aggressive" phone calls from influential people in India demanding an immediate increase in supply of the Covishield coronavirus vaccine.
"I would like to clarify certain things since my comments may have been misinterpreted," Poonawalla, in London with his wife to escape some of the pressure and threats, said in a statement tweeted on Monday afternoon.
"... vaccine manufacturing is a specialised process... it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight... We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses is not an easy task," he said.
"Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling..."
On Saturday Poonawalla told The Times "threats is an understatement", as he revealed pressure to scale up production and deliver the crores of doses required by the Indian government to vaccinate as many people as possible to counter a devastating second wave of the virus.
The following day he said: "Everything falls on my shoulders but I can't do it alone..."
In his statement Monday Poonawalla said the Serum Institute had supplied over 15 crore doses to the centre since production began and had received an advance for another 11 crore.
An additional 11 crore doses, he said, would be delivered to states and private hospitals - in accordance with the centre's "liberalised" vaccination policy - within the next few months as well.
Poonawalla's statement is part of a concerted pushback from the centre and SII against media reports alleging that the centre has yet to place fresh orders for COVID-19 vaccine doses.