127 million Covishield doses and 17 million Covaxin sent by centre so far
India has about 13 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in possession of the states — about 7.8 million Covishield and 5.7 million Covaxin – with about 10 million more in the pipeline for distribution among states over the coming weeks, data reviewed by HT showed on Sunday.
Of a total of about 144 million doses that the Centre supplied to all states and Union territories till April 18, nearly 127 million were Covishield doses and 17 million doses were of the Covaxin vaccine, according to government data accessed by HT till late on Sunday.
Amid allegations by states that vaccines are in short supply, the Centre maintains there is no shortage in the country. “The manufacturers are producing to their optimum capacity and supplying to the government. They are also simultaneously ramping up their capacities which will be visible by June,” said a central government official aware of the matter, adding there was no supply crunch from the manufacturers’ side.
India is currently administering two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – after a nationwide immunization drive against the infectious disease began on January 16. The drugs controller general of India (DCGI) last week approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, Sputnik V, for emergency use in India, a day after the regulator’s subject expert committee (SEC) recommended that there was enough data to grant the vaccine emergency use authorisation. The first local supplies of the Russian vaccine are expected by July.
Covishied is an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Covaxin is co-developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Out of 144 million doses supplied so far to states, a total of 123 million doses have been consumed since the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination was launched. Of these, Covishield doses are about 110 million and about 11 million are Covaxin doses, government data shows.
“The companies have fixed capacities, and like I said, they are producing 100% for the government, so there are no supply issues,” the official quoted above said on condition of anonymity.
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Another government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Supplies are not an issue; the government focus is to ensure maximum eligible beneficiaries are vaccinated at the earliest.”
The Union ministry of health and family welfare also wrote to states on Sunday asking to ensure movement restrictions imposed by the government for Covid-19 control do not adversely impact the vaccination exercise.
“It is advised that Covid-19 vaccination services should not be affected by Covid-19 curfews/lockdowns, and the movement of beneficiaries to and from Covid-19 vaccination centres should not be restricted during such interventions…,” said Manohar Agnani, additional secretary, health ministry, in his letter to states.
Experts said with the rapid rise in cases, vaccination will be one of the key interventions to bring down the numbers in the long run.
“We don’t have enough evidence to support whether these vaccines are effective in stopping transmission; however, we do know that these stop disease progression to severe level. If we keep on having milder version of infection for some time, then over a period of time it may just die, which is why vaccination is important,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, founder, Public Health Foundation of India.