New Delhi: India will miss a target to administer over a half billion Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of the month. This is because Bharat Biotech – maker of India’s approved homegrown shot is struggling to boost output according to an analysis of government data Monday. India has undertaken one of the world’s largest vaccination drives. It has so far distributed some 430 million doses – more than any country except China, but less than many countries relative to its population.
The government said in May it would make 516 million shots available by the end of July. It wants to inoculate all its estimated 944 million adults by December.
To meet the July-end target, however, authorities will have to more than triple average daily vaccinations to 14 million doses. But that will not be possible, based on the latest supply projections for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.
The government had been counting on deliveries of 60 million to 70 million Covaxin doses monthly from July or August. However, Bharat Biotech will only supply 25 million doses this month and 35 million in August.
However, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said the supply shortfall ‘would not affect our immunisation programme’. Comments were unavailable from Bharat Biotech on this issue.
The Centre is counting on 500 million doses of another vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 400 million doses from Bharat Biotech between August and December for its vaccination campaign.
Immunisation efforts have also been hobbled by a delayed rollout of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. And legal obstacles have prevented India from receiving US donations of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
After halting exports in mid-April to meet domestic demand, SII meanwhile has nearly doubled output in the past three months. Nearly 88 per cent of all vaccine doses administered in India to date have been SII’s Covishield shot.
The Centre expects the company to raise supplies of its Covishield vaccine to about 120 million doses in August from 100 million doses in June.