India’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign: A marathon, not a sprint
The year 2021 began with hope that the development, manufacture, and deployment of vaccines will soon bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end. Halfway through the year, vaccination is underway across the world, albeit at a much slower pace for the mostly poorer nations.
There is promising news from countries like the United States and Israel – where the vaccination drive has proven to be successful, and where health experts are considering the lifting of certain rules, such as that on wearing masks. India is still far from reaching its own targets. This special report examines the obstacles to India’s vaccination campaign, other than the question of supply.
The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in India1 was reported in the southern state of Kerala on January 30, 2020, of a 20-year-old female returning from Wuhan. At last count, the reported cumulative case count stands at 28.3 million.2 Globally, India stands second only to the United States (US) in absolute numbers of cases. In proportion to India’s entire population, the cases comprise two percent.
As of June 3, 2021, India has had over 300,000 deaths due to Covid-19,3 the highest number in the world after the US and Brazil. In terms of deaths per million population, India’s number is 234.
India officially launched its Covid-19 vaccination drive on 16 January 2021, with two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. As of June 3, 2021, as per reports from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW),5 India has administered just over 221 million vaccine doses. Of India’s 1.38 billion population, only 45.1 million have been fully vaccinated at the time of writing – about 3.26% of the total population.
The US, for instance, has fully vaccinated 41% of its population.
Analysts agree that a quick vaccine rollout is India’s only way through the pandemic. On May 30, the government informed the public that while a little more than 79 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine were available with the states in May, nearly 120 million doses will be made available in June.8 Other than the question of supply, however, there are issues that are critical to whether or not India will succeed in its vaccination campaign.
(The study has been authored by Haryax Pathak)