Covid-19 vaccine crisis 'likely to continue till August

Covid-19 vaccine crunch to continue till August-end

Over the last few days, several states have decided to scrap the vaccination for the 18-44 years group because of a paucity in the supply

V K Paul for the first time released vaccine availability data up to July 2021. Credit: AFP Photo

India’s ongoing vaccine crisis is likely to continue for at least another three months with the Union Health Ministry hoping for a turn-around on the supply front from August, top officials said on Thursday.

The Centre was expecting availability of more than 200 crore doses of vaccine between August and December, which would include 75 crore doses of Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and 55 crore doses of Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech – the two vaccines currently being used, Vinod Paul, NITI Ayog member said at a press conference.

Other vaccines likely in the Indian market in the second half of 2021, are Biological Evans Sub Unit vaccine (30 crore dose), Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine (5 crore), SII-Novavax vaccine (20 crore), Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine (10 crore), Genova mRNA vaccine (6 crore) and Sputnik V (15.6 crore), taking the total to 216 crore doses of various Covid-19 vaccine.

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Paul also for the first time released vaccine availability data up to July 2021, indicating access to about 51.6 crore doses, which is just enough to vaccinate only 25 crore people out of India’s estimated over 90 crore eligible adults.

Over the last few days, several states have decided to scrap the vaccination for the 18-44 years group because of a paucity in the supply.

The Centre has so far procured 35.6 crore doses of the vaccine while another 16 crore doses, being procured directly by the state governments and private hospitals, are in the pipeline. This, according to the officials, would be used to continue the vaccination till July end.

Paul said Russia's Sputnik-V would be available in the market from next week. In an affidavit in the Supreme Court, the Centre had earlier claimed that Russia had committed to providing 6 million doses of ready-to-administer Sputnik V vaccine in May, 10 million in June and 20 million in July.

Read | Covid-19 vaccine: Sputnik V to be available in India from next week

Sputnik-V is also expected to increase its local production in India from 30 lakhs to 1.2 crore doses per month by July 2021.

Paul said the central government had been engaged in talks with major foreign players like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson but they conveyed that they could look at the Indian requirement only in the third quarter of 2021.

Considering a target population of 95 crore, Paul said there would be enough vaccines for all of them by next year, even though the government’s worry was spreading of the infection to the rural areas as the cities would be saturated with people receiving the shots by then.