216 crore Covid vaccine doses projected between August and December was ‘aspirational’: Centre


Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Conceding that the projection of 216 crore Covid vaccine doses between August and December this year was “aspirational”, the government on Friday conceded that the figure revised to 135 crore doses in the Supreme Court may be more realistic. 

In a press conference on Covid status in the country by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, senior authorities said that these projections should be seen in the “right context”. 

In May, the government had projected 216 crore Covid19 vaccine doses for India in the last five months this year but in a submission before the apex court on June 26, the target figure was lowered to 135 crore. 

“The earlier estimate of 216 crore vaccine doses between August and December 2021 was an aspirational or optimistic one, “said VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog and chairman of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid. 

“The figures should be seen in the right context as this is a dynamic situation.” 

Paul further added that when the government proposed the estimate of 216 crore vaccines between August and December this year, it had collated the figures provided by vaccine makers, through their “responsible, optimistic and aspirational roadmap.” 

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“The private sector is very influential in India; they have such a major contribution to the GDP. They are reputed vaccine-maker conglomerates. We collated what they showed,” he said. 

The official added that in its earlier estimate of 216 crore vaccine doses, the government had taken into account the future availability of Biological E, Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccine, Novavax and Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccines. 

“But as far as the main vaccine makers – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — are concerned, at present 90 crore vaccine doses are estimated from each and this can also go up,” he said. 

As per the affidavit filed in the court, the Centre has now projected availability of 50 crore doses of Covishield and 40 crore doses of Covaxin between August-December. In addition, 30 crore doses of vaccine by Bio E, 10 crore doses of Sputnik V and 5 crore doses of vaccine by Zydus Cadila are also slated to be available. 

The government also claimed that the vaccination drive will get a further boost if it succeeds in its attempts to procure vaccines available outside India such as vaccines of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna. 

“It is submitted that for the purpose of procurement of these vaccines from abroad, efforts are ongoing at the level of the highest political executive in the country and also at the highest diplomatic level,” read the affidavit.

The Centre had maintained that since these efforts are at a very advanced stage, it is not possible to give comprehensive details but as and when these efforts materialise, “the speed of vaccination will be further augmented and enhanced”.

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