It has been more than a year since the pandemic has struck the world and it is still ruling the world. COVID-19 is a contagious disease caused by Coronavirus. It has gradually spread across the world. A majority of people affected with COVID-19 will have mild to severe respiratory symptoms and will recover without any special care. People over the age of 65 years as well as those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are at a higher risk of developing serious illness.
When this pandemic began, governments and pharma companies started to work on finding a solution (vaccine) to fight against it. Some vaccines are ready and others are getting ready. Vaccine makers around the globe are facing severe pressure in coming out with the final product. For sure, the pressure is not from the demand side, unlike the usual situation. It is from the supply side.
For example, Serum Institute of India Ltd., the country's leading vaccine maker and the biggest supplier of COVID-19 shots, is scrambling to meet the demand, as its factories can only manufacture 60 to 70 million doses per month, though it plans to ramp up to 100 million by July. Tensions have reached a critical point, with Serum's flamboyant chairman, Adar Poonawalla, fleeing to London partly to avoid violent threats from people desperate for vaccines.
The vaccine makers have a patent preventing others from manufacturing the same product. They do not want others to make the product as it would reduce their potential margins from each product. Also, the brand reputation of would be at risk if another company started making the product. It is always better to be in the small league of companies producing the vaccine. The reputation of being the sole producer of vaccine may exist, but what about the bad reputation accumulating over the public outcry and government pressure? For example, Poonawalla recently stated that the Serum Institute was "maligned by politicians and critics over the vaccine shortages." Without doubt, the public protests and outcry damage the reputation of the company. The public has been making various accusations about the vaccine makers, ranging from selling the vaccine in foreign markets for greater profits, not investing in manufacturing, unfair pricing practices, to even safety issues. All these are expected to reduce the brand reputation benefits gained by being a pioneer in vaccine development.
Vaccine makers need to explain their position to the general public in order to regaining their reputation. The firm may cite external or internal reasons for the present situation. For example, the high vaccine prices can be attributed to not installing enough manufacturing plants, which is an explanation directed internal to the firm. The external cause for high vaccine prices can be the non-availability of raw materials to manufacture the vaccine. Public reactions to these responses are different and the vaccine manufacturers need to be careful in their response pattern. If the explanation for the delay is internal, damage of reputation is likely to happen. Research has found that internal attribution to failure can cause negative reaction from stakeholders. Similarly, external attribution to failure can help to save firms from negative stakeholder reactions. Therefore, attributing vaccine delay to external reasons such as non-availability of ingredients can save some reputation of the vaccine makers.