India set to achieve administration of 100 crore vaccine doses by October end
Before the end of the third week of October, India would have achieved the target of administering 100 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine; and will take stock of the pending population to cover, before embarking on export of stocks to other countries, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
The pace of vaccination has picked up as the country prepares for a possible third wave. The government is also keen on speeding up the vaccination drive ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in seven states as it wants to showcase the inoculation programme against Covid-19 as an achievement of the Narendra Modi government.
On Tuesday, the emergency use of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine for the 2 to 18 age-group was also approved.
“As on date, 73% of the total population has been given at least a single dose of the vaccine; close to 30% have received both doses and we are following up with states to increase the vaccine administration. There are 8 crore doses kept ready for use by the states,” said the official quoted above.
As per Union government data, India has administered over 95.89 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
To a question on whether the Union government has identified any state that is still lagging in vaccination, the official said more or less all the states have inoculated about 60% of their population, but without citing numbers said the percentage of vaccinated people is lower in the tribal areas.
“There is no shortage of vaccines, it has however been noticed worldwide that there tends to be a saturation once 70% of the population is covered. So efforts are on to cover the remaining the population and counter any vaccine hesitancy. As for the availability of vaccines, the production for October alone is about 28 crore doses. Of this 22 crore doses are of Covishield, 6 crore of Covaxin and 60 lakh of the DNA vaccine (ZyCov-D),” the official said.
To a separate question on how the government plans to counter the bar on travellers inoculated with Covaxin which is awaiting clearances from the World Health Organisation and is not recognised by countries such as Canada, Australia and the U.K., the official said, “While we are awaiting clearances (from the World Health Organisation) we are also working on country-to-country mutual agreements for waiving the restrictions. So far about 15-16 counties including Italy, are allowing travellers vaccinated with Covaxin.”
Most countries, including Australia most recently, have begun considering Covishield, the Indian variant of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 shot, as a “recognised vaccine” for international travellers.
India is also yet to take a call on administering booster doses to senior citizens healthcare workers and those with comorbidities even though the WHO recommends booster doses for the immunocompromised. “There is no expert opinion yet in India on the booster doses. The sero survey that was conducted shows a pan India prevalence of antibodies in 67% of the population and we will also be conducting a survey to study breakthrough cases,” the official said.