On August 27, India achieved the milestone of administering over 1 crore Covid vaccine doses. 1,03,35,290 doses were administered yesterday breaking the previous record of 88,13,919 vaccine doses administered on August 16.
But the country needs to quickly build on this base as we are running short of time.
Health experts and doctors have suggested vaccinating as much population as possible before the third Covid wave hits the country in September as different studies suggest.
The country is also running short of time with a target already set to vaccinate the entire adult population by December 31 as assured by the central government.
A vaccinated population is the only solution to fight the Covid pandemic with no other treatment available for it. Also, studies have shown that only complete Covid vaccination makes an individual capable of fighting the virus effectively.
The country has around 94 crore adult population and it needs 188 crore Covid vaccine doses to fully vaccinate them as the three Covid vaccines being administered in India – Covishield by the Serum Institute of India, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Russian vaccine Sputnik V – are two shot vaccines.
Going by the latest health ministry figures, the country has administered 62.29 crore vaccine doses so far with more than half, or 51% of adult individuals receiving at least one dose. Out of these 51% individuals, 29.55% individuals have received the second vaccine dose, which makes for 15% of the total adult population.
That means, in the next 126 days, from August 28 to December 31, India has to administer 125.75 crore vaccine doses to fully vaccinate the entire adult population, or 1 crore vaccines doses a day to achieve the target set.
On August 7, the central government had assured the nation that from August and till December, the country would get at least 136 crore doses of ‘Made in India’ vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, giving a monthly breakup of 25.65 crore doses to be manufactured in August; 26.15 crore in September; 28.25 crore in October; 28.25 crore doses in November and 28.5 crore doses in December.
Additionally, India is also going to get at least 5 crore vaccines from Indian pharmaceutical firm Zydus Cadila and through Indian production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Zydus Cadila’s three-shot Covid vaccine has been given emergency use authorisation and the company hopes to produce at least 2.5 crore vaccine doses this year. Being a three-shot vaccine, it can fully vaccinate around 83 lakh individuals. Also, another Indian pharmaceutical firm Panacea Biotech will produce 2.5 crore doses of Sputnik V in India during August, September and October as the company has confirmed.
It means India can expect a supply of at least 141 crore vaccines from August to December with deals finalised so far. These 141 crore vaccines can fully vaccinate 70 crore individuals.
By July, the country had fully vaccinated 10.35 crore individuals. If we combine the July figure and the projected figure from August to December, we will still be short of 27.30 crore doses to vaccinate the remaining 13.65 crore individuals of our adult population. But with several vaccine deals in the pipeline – SII is soon expected to launch Covavax vaccine, the Indian version of US vaccine Novavax, or India’s deal for 30 crore vaccines with Hyderabad-based company Biological E for its under-development Corbevax vaccine or Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine – India is expected to get the stockpile it needs to vaccinate the entire adult population base.
According to the government note earlier this month, “Covid-19 Public Health Response Pro-active, Pre-emptive and Graded Response guided by Epidemiological and Scientific Rigour”, the next four months (including August) will see a significant acceleration in the pace of vaccination and the last few days can be its indication. The last six days, setting India’s new per day vaccination record, saw a cumulative vaccination figure of 3.89 crore with an average of 64.83 lakh doses being administered per day.
India’s Covid working group in May had estimated that in August, the country may see a monthly vaccination figure of 25 crore based on assurances given by manufacturers making Covishield and Covaxin but Covaxin manufacturer failed to ramp up its production capacity as required. Now with SII increasing its manufacturing capacity significantly much above the initial monthly production level of 7 to 7.5 crore doses, there is a possibility that this ‘1 crore vaccination a day’ target can be achieved more often, as estimated by the Covid working committee in May.
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