After eight months into the Covid vaccination drive in India, only one in 11 Indians has managed to get the indigenous vaccine, Covaxin as a result of its shortage in the market.
Reports have emerged that Bharat Biotech, which manufactures Covaxin has failed to ramp up its production and has fallen short of its target. Earlier, the delay was also caused by quality concerns.
In May, the Centre had projected that 55 crore doses of Covaxin or an average of 10 crore monthly doses, would be available during August-December which was slashed by 20% to eight crores a month later. However, the monthly capacity for August and September now stands far lower.
CMD Krishna Ella recently said the company would supply 5.5 crore doses from October, from the existing 3.5 crore doses which is substantially lower than the initially expected 10 crores.
Following this disclosure, there are rising concerns now around the supply of Covaxin with Serum Institute-manufactured Covishield accounting for over 90% of all vaccines administered. The absence of any clarity on its output, with different figures being cited by the company and Centre have compounded the problem.
In May, the Department of Biotechnology said the existing capacity of Covaxin will be doubled by May-June and then increased nearly 6-7 fold by August. It was to be increased from one crore doses in April to six to seven crore doses in July and reach nearly 10 crores a month by September this year. In August, the government said the monthly production capacity of Covaxin is projected to be increased to around 5.8 crores by December from 2.5 crore doses.
As per reports, about one crore daily doses are required to vaccinate the entire 94 crores eligible population by December 31.
The company has been facing flak over the slow pace of scaling up. It had earlier said the timeline for manufacturing, testing, and release for a batch is approximately 120 days.
However even after the lapse of nine months, Bharat Biotech is refusing to address questions over how it has repeatedly failed to fall short of the target.