COVID-19 | Every Parsi must be saved: Dr Cyrus Poonawalla

Updated: Jul 27, 2020, 08:23 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, whose firm is in the forefront to develop the COVID-19 vaccine in the last trial phase at Oxford Univ, accedes to request for setting aside 60,000 vials for the Parsi community; sets off Twitter debate

Dr Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the Oxford University is in the forefront to develop a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus. Representation pic
Dr Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the Oxford University is in the forefront to develop a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus. Representation pic

Taking jabs at each other, the Parsi community made this Sunday a simmering one with heated arguments over Coronavirus vaccine.

Around afternoon, a message started making the rounds on social media, about Dr Cyrus Poonawalla agreeing to keep 60,000 vials of the Coronavirus vaccine for the Parsi community when it comes. This message had first appeared in a news report in the community centric newspaper of Dinshaw Mehta, the former Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) chairman.

The message that first appeared in a communwity newspaper
The message that first appeared in a communwity newspaper

Excerpts from the message read, "As many are aware, Oxford University in collaboration with Dr Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India is in the forefront to develop a vaccine for treatment of the present pandemic scourge of COVID-19... True to his benefactor status of the Parsi community, he has agreed to set aside 60,000 vials of vaccine for exclusive Parsi use as and when developed." It then went on to say that Dr Poonawalla deserves to be invited, "by the community to enter unopposed the portals of the BPP as the chairman and clean the Augean stables."

40 Parsis have died so far
Mehta said Dr Poonawalla's offer came after "my WhatsApp message of July 22, requesting him to set aside this number for the community."

His communication to Dr Poonawalla stated, "We are a micro minority and every Parsi is required to be saved and healthy. At present, we are only 60,000 in number, and around 40 Parsis have died of COVID-19 so far. Hence this special request." Mehta said Dr Poonawalla replied the same night. "We hope that a vaccine is found at the earliest, benefiting not just Parsis but the entire world," Mehta said.

Soon after the message started circulating, several people from the community took to Twitter to express their opinions on the matter. Dr Poonawalla's son, Adar Poonawalla, tweeted, "We will keep more than enough for the community. Our production capacity of just one day will be enough to cover every Parsi on the planet, given the size of our community."

Mehta's stats questioned
Dr Viraf Kapadia, a prominent community member, however, said the community, "is not a guinea pig for the vaccine. We do not have 60,000 Parsis and I do not know from where Mehta got this figure of 40 Parsis dying of COVID."

Mehta retorted, "We do have approximately 60,000 Parsis everywhere. Nobody wants anyone to be a guinea pig. We are talking about the vaccine after its formal launch with all safety protocols. Some people are perpetually disgruntled."

Meanwhile, when Mehta was asked about his report that said Dr Poonawalla should be the chairman of BPP unopposed, Mehta said, "He will be able to stop the infighting that has been a bane for this body." Dr Poonawalla could not be reached for comment despite numerous efforts, but then, he was just Being Cyrus.

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