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As India Crosses 100 Crore Covid-19 Vaccinations, Here Are Four Things We Need To Realise

21 October, India crossed the remarkable milestone of 100 crore Covid-19 vaccinations. What makes this achievement especially impressive is that it was achieved in only nine months of the start of the drive. This is a testament to the state capacity of India and proves once again how efficient it can be when it sets its eyes on executing a particular project.

As we celebrate this stupendous accomplishment, there are four things that need to be realised.

First, while one has to appreciate the Narendra Modi-led government for delivering on the execution front and especially the brilliant way it used technology and developed the CoWin platform, the man who deserves overwhelming credit for the vaccine century, is Adar Poonawalla whose Serum Institute of India (SII) is responsible for around 88 per cent of total doses administered in the country so far. It’s for this reason that this author had advocated that India awards Padma Vibhushan to him or Bharat Ratna to SII which would set a new precedent to recognise such important institutional assets of the nation.

Had SII not over-delivered, India’s vaccination numbers wouldn’t look as impressive as they do today. In May 2021, the government was expecting 216 crore doses between August and December — 75 crore Covishield doses, 55 crore doses of Covaxin and 15.6 crore Sputnik V doses. These numbers were scaled down in June end when the government expectation (as per its affidavit in the Supreme Court) was that only 50 crore doses of Covishield, 40 crore doses of Covaxin and 10 crore doses of Sputnik V will be delivered. In addition, the government was expecting 30 crore doses of Corbevax from Hyderabad-based Biological E and 5 crore doses from Zydus Cadila.

Given that SII’s’ monthly production has increased to 20-22 crore in August, it has already met its target in half the time meaning that it will be delivering more than double of its 50 crore expectation by this year’s end. It’s also pertinent to note that SII is also producing Novavax’s Covavax for the last few months so that it can start supplying as soon as it gets the approval.

Bharat Biotech’s monthly production has increased to 5 crore only this month and it was 3.5 crore for September, the company would be able to deliver only 50-60 per cent of its 40 crore doses target. All the rest put together don’t amount to even 1 crore doses and given the pace at which they are moving, we can only expect some doses from them next year.


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