Vaccine giant tweets at Biden to end US raw materials ’embargo’

The head of the world’s largest vaccine maker has directly tweeted US President Joe Biden urging him to lift an export ban on raw materials desperately needed to make more coronavirus shots.

The unusual step by Serum Institute (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla underlined the crisis in providing vaccines to developing nations, many of which rely heavily on the firm for supplies.

“Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up,” he tweets.

There was no immediate response from the US leader on Twitter.

The world’s biggest vaccine producer by volume, SII has struggled to meet demand for the AstraZeneca jab, which it manufactures, after India put the brakes on allowing exports of the shots as it battles a ferocious second wave.

Poonawalla said last week that production was “very stressed” and called on the Indian government to provide it with financial assistance.

The company’s production of a jab developed by US firm Novavax has also hit roadblocks due to the US restrictions, with Poonawalla telling an Indian newspaper last week that the embargo was “as good as banning vaccines”.

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