In June, Delhi may get only 400,000 free shots for 18+
The Capital will get a little over 400,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines directly from vaccines makers in June, according to estimates shared by the Union government to the Delhi health department, which translates to roughly 40,000 additional shots that can be given to adults above the age of 18 compared to May.
The Centre also said it will send 415,810 doses in the first fortnight of the month under its vaccine supply programme, which is meant to be distributed among people aged 45 above. Compared to the first 14 days of May, this number is a drop of around 81,120 doses for this category.
These estimates suggest the city is unlikely to receive any significant boost in its supplies and could run out of the free doses meant for the 18-45 age group, which the state government administers after directly procuring it from manufacturers. In the month of May, it was allotted 360,530 doses -- according to an affidavit submitted by Centre in the Supreme Court this month. The city ran out of doses for this age group on May 22.
“States were informed that more stocks will be available in June, and a plan has been shared with them. The Centre has to ensure equitable distribution [of vaccine doses], and efforts are being towards that, so that there is no disparity among states,” said a central government official aware of the matter.
The Union government caps the amount of doses states can buy directly from vaccine makers in ratios that account for a state’s population, and distributes its share of doses using a mechanism that is based on the severity of the outbreak in a region.
It announces the doses it will distribute on a fortnightly basis, while the cap for the direct procurement is announced for the full month’s duration in advance.
In a letter written to Delhi’s principal secretary (health), Vikram Dev Dutt on May 17, Manohar Agnani, additional secretary of the Union health ministry, said, “…the Phase 3 of Covid-19 vaccination is ongoing since 1st May, 2021... In this regard for your State/UT the availability of Covishield from M/s Serum Institute of India, under free supply from government of India for the first fortnight of June ’21 is 319,510 doses.”
The state can procure 309,220 allocated Covishield doses on its own for the entire period of June.
In a separate letter, the Centre said it will provide 96,300 doses of Covaxin during the first two weeks of June, while the state can on its own procure a maximum of 91,960 doses. Private hospitals procure doses separately.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures Covishield, and Bharat Biotech, which makes Covaxin, can together make around 70-75 million vaccine doses a month, government officials have said in recent days, and this capacity is expected to rise to around 120 million by July -- with some enhancements possible before that.
“By next month [June], there will be more doses available, as companies are making all efforts to ramp up production capacity. The vaccine basket will also expand and there will be more choice,” the official added.
Experts have said that the weeks ahead will be crucial to ramp up the vaccination drive as cases go down, since inoculations alone can blunt any future wave of infections without the need for more lockdowns.