India has achieved the target of 13.5 crore vaccine doses in July as set by Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya. With 13,45,82,577 jabs being administered in July, that is, an average of 43,41,373 doses per day, there is a 12.5% increase against June’s 11,96,69,381 jabs.
The Centre on May 30 had assured the country that 11,95,70,000 Covid vaccine doses would be supplied in June. Total supplies in June were slightly less, 11.46 crore doses, than the target but the scale of vaccination as expected was achieved.
The month of June in fact saw massive increase of 96% over May when the vaccination drive was opened for all adult individuals of the country, or 94.02 crore Indians as per Census 2011 projection. May saw 6,10,57,003 vaccine doses administered, or on an average 19,69,580 a day.
50% Adults Vaccinated So Far
After 197 days of vaccination, 47,02,98,596 crore or 50% of all adults are now vaccinated in the country.
Of the 50% adults vaccinated so far, 39% individuals have received the first doses of the vaccine while 11% are fully vaccinated. Of the overall Indian population of 136.13 crore, as per Census 2011 projection, 34.55% individuals have received Covid vaccines so far. Of them, 27% are vaccinated with the first dose while 7.6% have received both the jabs.
Mammoth Task Ahead
Going by the current number of vaccinations, the country still has 46.99 crore unvaccinated individuals out of total 94.02 crore adult population of the country. Moreover, out of the 47 crore vaccinated so far, 36.68 crore have only received the first dose. They will be more susceptible to Covid-19 in case in case of reinfection than the fully vaccinated people.
And out of the total population base of 136.13 crore, the country still has 89.1 crore unvaccinated people, which means a much larger population could be the target of the virus during the third wave if it doesn’t’ follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Need to Rapidly Ramp Up Vaccination Process
India’s overall vaccination process so far has recorded a much slower pace during the second wave in April and May, and with rising cases in Kerala, Maharashtra, and northeastern states and with a floating population base across many states, the third wave may soon cover the whole country.
The government in fact has warned 10 states with high positivity rate, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Mizoram, and Manipur. Forty-six districts of these 10 states show a positivity rate of over 10%.
Though the country saw vaccination pace going up in May and June, the average vaccination per day is still much lower, at 23.87 lakhs per day. Going by the daily average, the country will still take 56 weeks or 13 months to vaccinate the entire adult population with at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
AIIMS director Randeep Guleria and other health experts had warned of the third wave in September-October and had advised to vaccinate as many people as possible before the period. But the absence of Covid-appropriate behaviour has advanced the third Covid wave possibility to this month with many states, as written above, are already seeing the surge in cases.
India did try to speed up the vaccination process since May with gradual increase in the daily and monthly pace of vaccination in June and July but it was restricted by the limited production capacity of manufacturers of two main vaccines being used in India, Covishield by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech. India is also importing Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine but for now it is available in the limited stock only. India is using two-shot Covid vaccines.
India to Miss the Earlier Set 25 Crore Target for August
India will miss the earlier target set for August. Dr NK Arora, chairman of Covid-19 working group under the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) said on May 31 that around 25 crore vaccine doses are likely to be supplied in August with ramping up of production capacity of Covishield and Covaxin.
SII increased the production capacity to 10-12 crore doses of Covishield by June-end. Bharat Biotech also promised to increase its supply of Covaxin to the same level by July-end. Apart from these two vaccines, India will also get the supply of from other manufactures and Sputnik-V from Russia, confirmed Arora. The target was to vaccinate one crore people every day.
According to Dr VK Paul, August is expected to see around 15 crore vaccinations, much less than what India had once estimated. According to the health ministry, the country received 2.5 crore doses of Covaxin in July and it is expected to be 3.5 crore in August while the estimates were that Covaxin will supply six crore vaccine doses from July.
So, the failure of Covaxin to supply around 10-12 crore doses a month did not only result in bringing down the earlier August target to vaccinate around 25 crore Indians but it also pushed the government to miss its target of vaccinating 51.6 crore individuals by July, according to the government of India’s affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court.