British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has pledged $1 million in humanitarian aid to India and other communities around the world hardest hit by the pandemic, a statement from the company said Tuesday.
“This includes directing $250,000 USD to Direct Relief to support their efforts in India, which includes the distribution of oxygen concentrators, medicines, other supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to provide treatment and care for those with COVID-19,” the statement said. It did not specify where the rest of the pledged money would be directed.
“We remain steadfast in our continued commitment to changing the course of the pandemic for the people of India,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said. “We hope that through increasing vaccinations, humanitarian relief efforts, and critical donations of medicines and needed equipment, India will steadily recover from this crisis. We stand united with the people of India, as we work tirelessly to bring this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible.”
CEO of the Serum Institute of India – the world's largest vaccine maker – Adar Poonawalla said in the statement: “We thank AstraZeneca for their unwavering support. We are working together to scale up and committed to provide more vaccines to India by July. This will help us to protect countless lives against this devastating virus.”
The SII is producing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, also known as Covishield, and has pledged to manufacture and deliver 200 million doses for COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative that supplies discounted or free doses to lower-income countries. However, the SII has had to pause exports as India battles a deadly second wave of the coronavirus infections.
The SII responded to AstraZeneca's statement on Tuesday, tweeting: "Much appreciated help from AstraZeneca, will help save countless lives in India."