After a weeklong high, India's Covid-19 vaccination slumped once again in the last three days with 41 lakh vaccinations being carried out on Thursday, preceded by 27.54 lakh and 36.46 lakh in the two days prior. On June 21, when the new regime kicked in for the first time, nearly 91 lakh doses were administered, which was followed by more than 60 lakh doses for four days and 50 lakh plus doses in two days. The Sunday that came in between witnessed 17.15 lakh doses administered.
Within days of Karnataka setting a record for vaccinations, Bengaluru Urban is reporting a shortage of doses. On Saturday, people turning up at vaccination sites were greeted by stark notice boards reading "Closed. No vaccination available." Others who stood in long lines waiting for their turn found that doses had run out after a few hundred people were vaccinated.
At a time when several scientific studies and experts suggest rapid vaccination, shortage of vaccine doses and a slowdown of vaccination pace is worrisome.
Vaccinating vulnerable populations irrespective of access to digital registration is important and there have been concerns in this regard. However, the Centre told the Supreme Court there is no question of anyone being left out in the Covid-19 vaccination drive due to "digital divide" and the Co-WIN system is designed to provide required flexibilities to states and Union Territories to overcome barriers to access.
Worryingly, the two Indian manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines appear to have supplied at least 30% fewer doses than their known production capacities in the first five months of this year, suggests an analysis of the data shared by the Union Health Ministry in an affidavit presented before the Supreme Court.
On a positive note, Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla has been given the go-ahead to import Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for restricted emergency use. The Centre is in talks with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as it seeks to step up the vaccination drive. Moderna Inc. said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the Delta variant spreading in the US and many other parts of the world. On another encouraging note, researchers also reported that vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna set off a persistent immune reaction in the body that may protect against the coronavirus for years.
India has subtly warned of retaliatory action if its citizens inoculated with Covaxin or Covishield are placed in quarantine or subjected to other travel restrictions while visiting any European Union nations. New Delhi has asked the European Union’s member nations to individually exempt its citizens inoculated with Covaxin or Covishield from travel restrictions even though the two Covid-19 vaccines are not among the ones approved by the bloc for its “Green Pass” programme. Soon after, nine European nations are accepting Covishield vaccines for travel to their countries, sources said on Thursday. Bharat Biotech's Covaxin received first foreign recognition with Estonia confirming on Thursday that Indians inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine would be allowed to enter the North European nation.
Vaccine giant Serum Institute of India has started manufacturing Covovax, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax in it's plant in Pune. In March this year, he had said that the clinical trials of the Covovax vaccine have begun in India and the company hopes to launch it by September this year. However, a DCGI panel has asked Serum Institute of India (SII) to submit the safety and immunogenicity data from the ongoing clinical trials of Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine on adults before applying for conducting trials on children aged 2-17 years.
India's first DNA vaccine against Covid-19 showed 66% efficacy against the disease without any incidence of death or severe illness during clinical trials on 28,000 individuals, its developer Zydus Cadila claimed on Thursday. The company has applied for Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine ZyCoV-D from the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation sharing the clinical trial data with the regulator, which would take a call on the EUA approval after scrutinising the information. As a part of the clinical trial, the indigenous vaccine was tested on 1,000 children of 12-18 years of age, the first of its kind.
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