Pune-based Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker, is planning to manufacture the shots abroad, its chief executive officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla told UK's The Times. "There's going to be an announcement in the next few days," said Poonawalla, who flew to London before the UK banned travel from COVID-ravaged India. 

Also read: 'Indian strain' vs Indian vaccines: Covishield, Covaxin effective, says study

SII is manufacturing AstraZeneca/Oxford of University's COVID jab and is struggling to keep up with the supply commitments.

Earlier last month, Poonawalla sought Rs 3,000 crore ($408 million) from the Centre to boost its "very stretched" production capacity. 

He also urged US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo of raw material exports, so that vaccine production could be ramped up.

As India was faced with an aggressive second wave of coronavirus and a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, the SII priced its vaccine at Rs 400 per dose for the state governments and Rs 600 for the private hospitals. 

Amid mounting criticism, Poonawalla announced that the vaccine's price for state governments was lowered to Rs 300 per dose. This was done "as a philanthropic gesture," he tweeted.

For the Centre, the vaccine is priced at Rs 150 per dose.

Meanwhile, the Union government has granted Poonawalla Y+ security across India.

Also read: Thief in Haryana returns COVID vaccines with apology note, says 'did not know'

Meanwhile, India has started the third phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday in which everyone above the age of 18 is eligible to get the jab.