'More than 1.82 crore doses available with states, over four lakh in pipeline': Centre on vaccine shortage

By PTI
NEW DELHI: More than 1.82 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are available with states and union territories, and over 4 lakh will be received by them within the next three days, the Union health ministry said on Saturday.

The central government has so far provided, through the free of cost category and direct state procurement category, more than 22.77 crore vaccine doses to states and UTs.

Of these, the total consumption, including wastages is 20,80,09,397 doses, according to data available at 8 am on Saturday, the ministry said.

“More than 1.82 crore (1,82,21,403) COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs to be administered. Furthermore, 4,86,180 vaccine doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the states and UTs within the next 3 days,” the ministry said.

As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Centre has been supporting the states and UTs by providing them Covid vaccines free of cost.

In addition, it has been facilitating direct procurement of vaccines by the states and UTs.

Vaccination is an integral pillar of the comprehensive strategy of Union government for containment and management of the pandemic, along with test, track, treat and Covid-appropriate behaviour, the ministry said.

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Implementation of the liberalised and accelerated phase-3 strategy of Covid vaccination has started from May 1, it said.

Under the strategy, 50 per cent of the total Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) cleared vaccine doses of any manufacturer would be procured by the government of India every month.

It would continue to make these doses available to the states free of cost as was being done earlier, the ministry said.

Vaccine, being a biological product, takes time for harvesting and quality testing and this cannot be done overnight to ensure a safe product, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said Government of India, through the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), is regularly interacting with national and international manufacturers like Pfizer, Moderna to make vaccines available in the country.

“The concrete actions are a stern indication that Government of India is making all out efforts to increase vaccine production in the country as well as attracting foreign vaccine manufacturers to supply the required vaccine doses for national Covid vaccination programme,” the ministry in a statement.

Despite the constraints of availability, India has fared well in covering 200 million persons in only 130 days which is the third largest coverage in the world, the ministry said.

Government of India has been supporting the efforts of states and UTs for effective management of Covid patients in vaccination under the ‘Whole of Government’ approach since January this year.

With Covid being a pandemic with worldwide impact, there has been a high global demand of vaccines with a limited number of manufacturers and limited manufacturing capacity across countries.

India has a population of 1.4 billion, which is a substantial share of the world population, the statement said.

In India, two vaccines were approved by the regulatory body in January.

The two manufacturers, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, had a capacity to provide around 1 crore doses in the month of December, 2020.

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The NEGVAC was established in August, 2020 to provide guidance on all aspects of vaccine introduction, including prioritisation of beneficiaries, procurement, vaccine selection and its delivery.

The priority of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccination in India has been done based on the review of available scientific evidence, guidelines proposed by the WHO, global examples and practices followed in other countries with the primary objective of protecting the healthcare and frontline workers.

Accordingly, the vaccination drive in the country has been sequentially expanded to cover the prioritized groups starting with healthcare workers (HCWs) on January 16 followed by frontline workers (FLWs) from February 2, persons aged 60 years and above, and those aged 45-59 years with co-morbidities were covered from March 1.

Subsequently, from April 1 everyone aged 45 and above are eligible for vaccination.

Such an approach has yielded positive results by achieving more than 90 per cent first dose coverage among registered HCWs and around 84 per cent coverage of 1st dose among registered FLWs, the statement said.

A ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy’ was adopted on May 1 which is guiding the ongoing phase of the vaccination drive.

This strategy aims at incentivising manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production and also attract new manufacturers.

This will augment vaccine production resulting in wider availability of vaccines with flexibility in pricing, procurement, the statement said.

“The manufacturing capacities have been ramped up. Vaccine being a biological product takes time for harvesting and quality testing. This cannot be done overnight to ensure a safe product. Thus, increase in capacity of manufacturing too needs to be a guided process,” the statement said.

The Russian Sputnik V is the third vaccine to get approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted use in emergency situation and it is being used in a few private hospitals.

These are expected to be increased over the coming days.

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 20.86 crore, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.

It said 13,36,309 people in the age group of 18-44 years received their first dose and 275 beneficiaries of the same group received their second dose of COVID vaccine on Friday.

Cumulatively 1,66,47,122 beneficiaries in this age group have been vaccinated since the start of phase three of the immunisation drive.

Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have administered the first dose of anti-coronavirus vaccine to more than 10 lakh beneficiaries of the age group 18-44 years.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country stood at 20,86,12,834, according to a 7 pm provisional report.

This includes 98,44,619 healthcare workers and 1,54,41,200 frontline workers who have received the first dose, 67,58,839 healthcare workers and 84,47,103 frontline workers who have taken both doses.

Also, 1,66,47,122 beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group have received the first dose and 275 people in the same group have got both the jabs.

Besides 6,44,71,232 and 1,03,37,925 beneficiaries aged between 45 and 60 years have been administered the first and second dose respectively.

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Also, 5,81,23,297 senior citizens and 1,85,41,222 such beneficiaries have received the first and second dose respectively.

As on day 133 of the vaccination drive, 28,07,411 doses were administered, of which 25,99,754 beneficiaries were given the first dose and 2,07,657 the second dose, according to the provisional report, the ministry said adding final reports for the day would be completed by late in the night.

The vaccination exercise as a tool to protect the most vulnerable population groups in the country from COVID-19 continues to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level, the health ministry underlined.