Five months into the Covid-19 vaccination programme, about five per cent of India’s target population has been fully vaccinated, health officials said in New Delhi on Friday.
Only 5.03 crore Indians received both doses of the vaccine whereas 22 crore individuals had been inoculated with the first dose, said Luv Agarwal, joint secretary in the Health Ministry.
More than 27 crore doses have been administered so far with a daily average of 31 lakh shots recorded last week.
Considering a target population of 95 crore, which needs to be administered two doses, a back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the daily vaccination should be in the range of nearly 83 lakh for each of the remaining 196 days of 2021.
“Recent evidence from real-world vaccine effectiveness studies conducted in India highlights the benefits of being fully vaccinated with two doses. It is important that the government ramps up the vaccine delivery programme to ensure the vulnerable are receiving two doses in a timely manner,” Oommen John, a senior researcher from the George Institute of Global Health told DH.
The Union government earlier stated that 12 crore vaccine doses would be available in June. But halfway through the month around five crore doses have been used so far, prompting the experts to point out the need to accelerate the pace of vaccination.
“Several countries are scheduling both doses while a beneficiary is registered for vaccination. This should have been considered. Going forward all new registrations should provide confirmed vaccination slots for both doses for maximal benefit and operational efficiencies,” said John.
About 70 per cent of the health care workers and less than 50 per cent of the front line workers have received both doses even though they were the first two groups to get off the block in the world’s biggest adult vaccination drive.
“Unless India's vaccination rates rise from 30 lakh doses per day to 55-60 lakh doses per day, it will not be able to vaccinate 100 per cent of the 18 plus population by early-2022. At the present rate, it will reach that target only by 2023,” tweeted R Ramkumar, a professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
On the positive side, there is five times increase in the number of districts reporting less than five per cent positivity in the last five weeks. In the week between April 30 and May 6, there were only 103 such districts, but the number rose to 513 districts between June 11-17, Agarwal said.
Only 147 districts – mostly in coastal and southern India, and parts of the North East – now report more than 100 daily new infections.
Almost 85 per cent decline has been noted in daily new cases since the highest reported peak on May 7 whereas 78 per cent decrease has been recorded in total active cases since the peak on May 10.
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