Defying claims that he ‘left’ the country, Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla Group said that he has joined son Adar Poonawalla and his family in London for a regular ‘summer vacation’.
The Poonawalla group includes the vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India. Speaking to the Indian Express, Cyrus Poonawalla said he was on a routine summer vacation, something that he takes every year in May and any suggestion that they have “left” the country in this time of crisis was “false and malicious”.
Adar Poonawalla- CEO of Serum Institute of India- company that has supplied almost 90 per cent of the Covid vaccines in India so far, has been in London for nearly a month. He had complained of receiving threats from politicians demanding quick delivery of the Covishield vaccine. He had also been complaining of being vilified and blamed in India.
As the Covid-19 cases and fatalities continue to mount across India, the incumbent government and the Serum Institute are being blamed for the failure to secure stocks for domestic use and delayed production of vaccines, respectively.
Reportedly, in a statement from London on May 3, Adar Poonawalla had said that it was not possible to ramp up vaccine production ‘overnight’. The company was making every effort to increase capacity and would work even harder to achieve that, he added.
Adar’s statement about receiving threats and his departure for the UK, just before India was red-flagged for travel, raised several questions. However, on May 1 in a tweet, Adar suggested that his stay in London was temporary and he was planning to return to India in a few days.
“I used to get Adar, when he was a child, to the UK. His children are now studying abroad, and it is a routine visit that he makes often to the country,” Cyrus said. Almost every year, I am in England attending the Derby in the first week of June, he added.
He also emphasised that his group is planning to start manufacturing operations in Europe and it was too early to disclose any further details.