Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd., helmed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is one of the big Indian corporations that have pulled off the feat of inoculating nearly all of their employees with a Covid-19 vaccine in a chronically resource-crunched country that’s currently scrambling to boost its supply of coronavirus shots.
India’s largest company by market value said in a statement Friday that more than 98% of its employees have received at least one dose against Covid-19. The retail-to-refining conglomerate had more than 236,300 employees as of March 31. The local unit of consumer giant Unilever Plc has given at least one shot to about 90% of its employees or more than 88,000 people.
Technology titans, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys Ltd. have inoculated 70% and 59% of their workforce respectively.
The organized sector accounts for less than 20% of the workforce in the South Asian nation, underscoring the wide disparity in vaccine access. India has administered at least one dose to only 25% of its 1.3 billion population, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.
While the private sector has been more efficient in procuring shots to speed up the nation’s inoculation drive, some states continue to struggle with sporadic vaccine shortages blunting India’s overall efforts to avert another virus wave. India’s delta-driven second wave that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums also showed the urgent need for boosting vaccinations that are known to significantly reduce hospitalization and deaths in Covid sufferers.
Reliance claims it has administered over 1 million doses to its workforce and their families free of cost and is operating 171 vaccination centers across the country.
India has for months struggled to ramp up its immunization campaign and has relied on the private sector to ease the burden on the public health-care facilities which were stretched to breaking point in the brutal second wave of infections that peaked in May.
At its current rate of vaccination, India is projected to take 1.1 years to inoculate 75% of its population with two doses, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
Still, the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — the world’s biggest vaccine producer — has slowly boosted average monthly output to more than 100 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s shot, while the other main supplier — Bharat Biotech International Ltd. — is churning out about 25 million doses of its Covaxin each month, Bharati Pravin Pawar, the country’s junior health minister, said last week.
While the central government has denied any vaccine supply gaps, some states have flagged localized shortages. As many as 3 million people in the north-western state of Rajasthan missed their second dose due to unavailability of shots, while the southern state of Tamil Nadu was also seeing a supply deficit, according to local media reports. —Bloomberg