In absolute numbers, that works out to more than 10 crore people in these states put together receiving the first jab, and of them, 1.6 crore getting the full two doses.
Nationally, 8.4% of India’s population have received the first dose, while 1.4% have been fully inoculated. As India gears up to allow vaccination for all those above 18 years, experts point to production and supply capacities and say focus must remain on priority populations.
The health ministry data shows wide variations in the vaccination coverage among the 19 states. While two states have achieved over 15% coverage for the first dose, 10 states lag behind the national average; three, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have not managed to cover even 5% of their population.
JNCASR faculty: Only another 18 cr may be vaccinated by July
Santosh Ansumali and Meher K Prakash, faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, say the massive effort is appreciable but point out that going by the present and projected supply capacity of vaccine-makers, India will only be able to vaccinate another 18 crore people by the end of July.
A recent report by Lancet Covid Commission-India Task Force reads: “Today Indian manufacturers are producing approximately 7-8 crore doses per month. Even if 100% of this supply was for domestic use, at a target of 50 lakh doses a day, the monthly supplies would fall short by half.”
Ansumali and Prakash point out that even the third entry into the market — Sputnik V — says the numbers will be low in May, June, and may be in July beyond which production may ramp up from 5-10 crore doses depending on how their partnerships work. Also, the Centre has announced a Rs 4,500 crore financial support to help Covishield and Covaxin to ramp up.
Assuming there will not be any slowdowns due to the embargo from the US on the export of raw materials needed for vaccines, and a quick turnaround of making more facilities operational, the realistic output seems to be about 6 crore vaccines per month in May, June and July. That is about 18 crore doses. Even if there is a stockpile of another 18 crore doses, the JNCASR faculty said, it will be possible to vaccinate 18-20 crore more people between now and July, given that they will need two doses. “From a national perspective, all people are equal, and everyone deserves a vaccine. But from a public health point of view, not everyone is at the same risk. Risks may be higher with variants in the second wave, but hopefully it will not be drastically different. Compared to seniors, younger age groups of 25 and below have a much lower mortality risk — 15 to 100 times lower — based on different estimates,” says Prakash.