New Delhi: The coronavirus vaccination in India started on January 16 and so far, over 39 crore doses have been administered, of which only 7,78,00,000 people have received both doses. At the same time, the central government has given 40,31,00,000 doses so far, but despite this, vaccination is not happening in many states. In such a situation, the question is whether all the people of the country will be able to get vaccinated by December (at this speed).
At the beginning of the year, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield were introduced in India. After receiving emergency use authorization for both these vaccines from the Drug Controller General of India, vaccination started in a phased manner from January 16. After this, Russia and Dr. Reddy Laboratory's Sputnik V vaccine also got emergency use authorization in India.
It's been over 6 months since the vaccination started. However, only 39,13,40,491 doses have been administered to people, out of which 31,35,29,502 people have received the first dose, while 7,78,10,989 are fully vaccinated. In 6 months, only 7.78% of the population has been vaccinated. At this rate, how will the entire country be vaccinated by December? There are several questions regarding this.
In the meanwhile, many states have spoken about the shortage of vaccines, due to which vaccination is not being done. In some places, only the second dose is being given. According to the states, this is happening due to a shortage of vaccines. However, the central government has argued that the states are informed 15 days in advance about how many vaccines will be available. Therefore, the states should plan their vaccination drives accordingly.
Dr. VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, says, “The availability, production, and supply of the vaccine is informed to all states. The plans are explained in detail. States are aware of how many vaccines are going to come and which vaccines are coming; they should plan accordingly. This is not a 100m race. It is a long journey. As soon as the vaccine is made, efforts are made to give them to people without any delay."
Currently, only two vaccines in India, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield, are included in the government's vaccination program. Both doses of the vaccines are being supplied every month. The government hopes that vaccine production will soon ramp up.
Regarding the speed of vaccine production, Dr. VK Paul said, "The production of the vaccines is increasing slowly, as planned. As the speed of production increases, we have to implement the vaccination program accordingly."
According to the Union Health Ministry, till July 15, the central government had given 40,31,74,380 vaccine doses to the states and union territories, of which 38,39,02,614 doses had been used, including medical wastage. States currently have 1,92,71,766 vaccine doses available, while 83,85,790 vaccine doses are in the pipeline.
According to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, the vaccine supply is increasing every month. In the month of May, about 8 crore doses were given by the centre to the states. That number has increased to 11.46 crore in June, and in July, it has gone up to 13.50 crore doses. However, July's 13.50 crore figure includes both first and second doses.
Recently, in an affidavit filed by the Union Health Ministry in the Supreme Court, it was said by July 31, 51.6 crore vaccines would have been administered. At the same time, the government will procure 135 crore new vaccines between August and December. This includes 50 crore Covishield, 40 crore Covaxin, 30 crore Bio E, 10 crore Sputnik V, and 5 crore Zydus Cadila DNA vaccines.
However, Zydus Cadila hasn't received emergency use authorization from the Drug Controller General of India yet. The third phase trial of Bio E (from whom the government has purchased 30 crore doses in advance) isn't over yet either. The Sputnik vaccine is still being imported and the numbers aren't too high. Although it will soon be manufactured in India. In the meanwhile, Moderna's vaccine has got emergency use authorization, but the vaccine has not arrived in India yet and it is not clear when it will come.
After the vaccine is made, the process is long. The vaccine is available only after the batch is cleared from CDL Lab Kasauli. Hence, there is a difference between production and availability.
Dr. VK Paul said, “It is a dynamic system. The clearance of CDL is obtained after a stability test and then the batch is released and shared with the states. States must plan their vaccination drives keeping that in mind."
In such a situation, there is a question on how the entire adult population of India will be vaccinated by December. At present, the government is hopeful that after August, the situation will be better and this target will be achieved.