By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Conceding that the projection of 216 crore vaccine doses between August and December this year was “aspirational”, the government on Friday conceded that the figure revised to 135 crore doses in the Supreme Court may be more realistic. In a press conference on Covid-19 status in the country by the health ministry, authorities said these projections should be seen in the “right context”.

In May, the government had projected 216 crore doses for the last five months of this year, but in a submission before the apex court on June 26, the target was lowered to 135 crore.“The earlier estimate of 216 crore doses between August and December was an aspirational or optimistic one, “said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, and chairman of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration. Paul added that when the government proposed the estimate of 216 crore vaccines between August and December,  it had collated the figures provided by vaccine makers, through their “responsible, optimistic and aspirational roadmap.”

“The private sector is very influential in India. They have such a major contribution to the GDP. We collated what they showed,” he said. The official added that in its earlier estimate of 216 crore,  the government had taken into account future availability of Biological E, Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccine, Novavax and Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccines. “But as far as the main vaccine makers — Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — are concerned, at present 90 crore vaccine doses are estimated from each and this can also go up,” explained Paul.

As per the affidavit filed in the court, the Centre has now projected an availability of 50 crore doses of Covishield and 40 crore doses of Covaxin between August-December. In addition, 30 crore doses of vaccine by Bio E, 10 crore doses of Sputnik V and 5 crore doses of vaccine by Zydus Cadila are also slated to be available. 

The government also claimed that the vaccination drive will get a further boost if it succeeds in its attempts to procure vaccines available outside India such as vaccines of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna. “For the purpose of procurement from abroad, efforts are on at the level of the highest political executive and also at the highest diplomatic level,” read the affidavit. The Centre has maintained that since these efforts are at an advanced stage, it is not possible to give comprehensive details but as and when these efforts materialise, “speed of vaccination will be further augmented and enhanced”.



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