Another 44 crore Covid vaccines ordered, 2.16 billion doses by December-end is the promise 

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday announced that it has placed fresh orders for 44 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — for the country, which will be delivered between August-December.

The new orders will include 25 crore doses of Covishield by Serum Institute of India and 19 crore doses of Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and the government said it has paid 30% of the total purchase price to the companies.

The development closely follows a significant revision in the Covid-19 vaccination policy under which all adults are now entitled to receive free vaccines starting June 21 at government inoculation centres as the Centre has said it will procure 75% of all available vaccines and distribute it among states.

“In immediate follow-up of the Prime Minister’s announcement of these changes in the guidelines of national Covid vaccination programme yesterday, the Centre has placed an order with Serum Institute of India for 25 crore doses of Covishield and with Bharat Biotech for 19 crore doses of Covaxin,” said the health ministry in a statement.

The procurement price per dose paid under this order is yet to be known but these vaccines had earlier been procured at Rs 150 per shot by the ministry.

The deal for fresh orders comes days after the Centre announced making an advance payment of Rs 1500 crore to Hyderabad based vaccine maker Biological E for procuring its Covid-19 vaccine, still under phase 3 clinical trials, marking the first such deal of advance purchase for securing coronavirus vaccines.

With the latest purchase orders, the government has secured 74 crore coronavirus vaccine doses for the country from August onwards, announced V K Paul, member (health) Niti Aayog and head of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration on Covid19, in a press briefing on Tuesday. 

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Till July, on the other hand, a total of 53.6 crore vaccine doses are to be available in India.

For the country, the government had earlier promised a total of 2.16 billion doses of vaccine till December, enough to cover nearly 95 crores of the country’s adult population.

But experts have raised doubts on the claimed figures, given the production capacity of vaccine makers and the proposed expansion plans so far.

The uncertainties on the projected figures have been further raised due to the fact that the government had earlier said that 75 crore doses of Covishield and 55 crore doses of Covaxin will be available between August-December but has not shared a specific roadmap on the production ramp-up necessary to achieve the target.