New Delhi: While Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Monday celebrated the administration of over 75 crore doses of Covid vaccines in total, the Narendra Modi government hopes to acquire 100 crore more doses in the next three months, ThePrint has learnt.
Congratulations India! 🇮🇳
PM @NarendraModi के सबका साथ, सबका प्रयास के मंत्र के साथ विश्व का सबसे बड़ा टीकाकरण अभियान निरंतर नए आयाम गढ़ रहा है। #AazadiKaAmritMahotsav यानि आज़ादी के 75वें वर्ष में देश ने 75 करोड़ टीकाकरण के आँकड़े को पार कर लिया है।#SabkoVaccineMuftVaccine pic.twitter.com/BEDmQZQsY7
— Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) September 13, 2021
If all the estimated delivery targets conveyed by the four vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila and Biological E — are met, then India is likely to administer 100 crore doses from October to December this year.
It also likely to surpass the August to December estimate that was submitted to the Supreme Court earlier this year, people in the know have told ThePrint.
In an affidavit dated 26 June, the Narendra Modi government had told the Supreme Court that a total of 135 crore doses of vaccines would be available between August and December.
“The government has already placed an order of 66 crore vaccine doses with SII, to be delivered over the next three months. We are also looking at Biological E delivering about 30 crore doses by December and Bharat ramping up production to about 5 crore doses per month — that is 15 crore doses over the next three months,” said Dr N.K. Arora, chairman of the Covid vaccination working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI).
“There is also the Zydus Cadila vaccine that the company has told us will become available over the next three months — about 3 crore doses. So we should cross the 100-crore mark between October and December,” Dr Arora told ThePrint.
This comes after India administered over 1 crore vaccine doses twice in the last week of August.
Government made an advance payment to Bio E
One of the vaccine manufacturers that is expected to help the government acquire 100-crore doses is Biological E, which has already received an advance payment for its vaccine even though it is yet to be approved.
An advance of Rs 1,500 crore was extended to the company in June for 30 crore doses of its subunit Covid vaccine.
Meanwhile, Zydus has received emergency use authorisation but is yet to start delivery of its three-dose vaccine that can also be used in children aged over 12 years.
In its June affidavit, submitted before the Supreme Court, the central government also said that it expects all eligible Indians to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of the year.
In August, India had administered over 16 crore vaccine doses and another 22-23 crore doses are expected to be available in September.
Meanwhile, a total of 75,10,41,391 vaccine doses have been administered across the country as of 5:30 pm Monday.
High hopes from SII
According to a senior official from the health ministry, not all of the “aspirational” projections by the four companies are likely to be met.
However, he added that the hope to achieve the 135-crore mark is high primarily because of the increase in the production capacity of the SII.
The company is currently targeting a production capacity of 20 crore doses a month, but officials are hopeful that it will soon surpass the mark.
“We have placed an order for 66 crore doses to be delivered by the end of the year but the pace at which they are going, we have very high hopes of that number being reached by November and the company possibly churning out an additional 20 crore doses by the year end,” the senior official told ThePrint.
The official added: “Bharat on the other hand is currently giving a little over 2 crore vaccines but with three new facilities coming up, it is possible they meet the 5 crore monthly target figure. But the others are a little iffy at the moment.”
He further noted that Biological E’s target of manufacturing 30 crore doses may also be a little difficult because of raw material constraints.
“The vaccine is yet to get licensed, so to that extent this discussion is a little premature. But also from what we understand, the company needs one ingredient that is imported and that is the limiting factor in its production capacity,” the official added.
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