The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Monday endorsed the Centre's statement clarifying media reports alleging that the government has not placed any fresh order for COVID-19 vaccines are "incorrect" and are not based on facts.

"We endorse this statement, and the authenticity of the information. We have been working closely with the Government of India for the past year and thank it for its support. We remain committed to ramping up our vaccine production to save every life we can," tweeted the institute.

The Serum Institute manufactures COVID vaccine Covishield, while the Bharat Biotech is the manufacturer of Covaxin.

Earlier today, the Union Health Ministry said: "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."

The ministry further said that against the last order of 10 crore doses for supplies of Covishield vaccine, 8.744 crore doses have been delivered till May 3. "Hence to say that fresh orders have not been placed by the government is not correct."

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla also issued a statement, saying that his company has received orders for 26 crore doses.

"As of today, we received total orders of over 26 crore doses of which we supplied more than 15 crore doses. We have also got 100 per cent advance of Rs 1,732.50 crore by GoI for the next tranche of 11 crore doses in the next few months. Another 11 crore doses would be supplied in the second channel for states and private hospitals in the next few months," Poonawalla said in a statement.

Poonawalla said that his comments may have been "misinterpreted".

"First of all, 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 for all adults is not an easy task. Even the most advanced countries and companies are struggling in relatively smaller populations," he explained.

Under the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, the Government of India would continue to procure its share of 50 per cent of the monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) cleared vaccines and would continue to make it available to the state governments totally free of cost as was being done earlier, the ministry stated.

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