Adar Poonawalla, the leader of a major vaccine maker, said he fled India due to threats.
Poonawalla heads the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
The COVID-19 situation in India is so dire that Poonawalla said people have threatened him, accusing him of delaying vaccines on purpose.
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The CEO of Serum Institute, a vaccine maker in India, said he fled the country due to relentless threats against him.
In an interview with The Times of London, Adar Poonawalla said he traveled to England to escape threats from people claiming he had vaccines.
“The ‘threats’ are an understatement,” Poonawalla said. “The level of expectation and aggression is truly unprecedented.”
“It’s upsetting. Everyone thinks he should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why someone else should get it before them,” he added. “They say if you don’t give us the vaccine it won’t be good. It’s not bad language. It’s the tone. It’s the implication of what they might do if I don’t don’t conform to me. “
The Serum Institute is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, producing more than 60 million doses of AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccines each month.
At the time of his interview, Poonawalla said he would stay in England for “an extended time, because I don’t want to go back to this situation”.
“It all falls on my shoulders, but I can’t do it alone,” he added.
Hours after the interview was published, Poonawalla backed down and wrote on Twitter that he would be returning to India “in a few days”.
The news of his departure from India comes as the country experiences a sharp rise in positive COVID-19 cases.
The country reported a record 401,993 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday. No other country has violated 400,000 cases daily.
Crematoriums across India are overwhelmed with bodies. Patients are dying as hospitals run out of oxygen. The country had reported more than 300,000 new cases every day for nine consecutive days before hitting the 400,000 mark.
India also reported more than 3,500 deaths on Saturday – the fourth day in a row that the death toll has exceeded 3,000. Those numbers are likely undercounted. A New York Times investigation released this week found “growing evidence” to suggest the deaths are “overlooked or minimized” by the government.
Things got so bad that people repeatedly surrounded his business and called him a COVID-19 vaccine “profiteer”.
“I don’t think even God could have predicted it was going to get this bad,” Poonawalla said in the interview.
Morgan McFall-Johnsen of Insider contributed to this report.
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