To vaccinate all Indians above the age of 18 by the end of this year, as envisaged by the Modi government, an average of 92 lakh doses per day will have to be administered.
The Centre will have to gear up and reroute its resources to achieve this humongous task. In pure numbers, it means the COVID vaccination rate will have to be augmented by 1.6 times over the current rate.
The country’s cumulative vaccination coverage crossed the 46 crore mark on Saturday (July 31), informed the Union Health Ministry. In the 18-44 years age group, 15,22,17,587 Indians have got the first dose while 80,61,768 have got both the doses. In the 45-59 year category, 10,44,37,699 people have got the first dose and 3,84,29,220 have got both the doses.
Responding to a question asked during Monsoon Session of Parliament last week, Minister of Health for State Bharati Pawar said that 1.35 billion (135 crore) vaccines would likely be made available in the country from August to December.
The minister said the government aims to vaccinate all above the age of 18 by December 2021, but said it cannot fix a “timeline” because of the ever-evolving nature of the virus and challenges thrown in by the pandemic.
Some of India’s biggest states have been the slowest when it comes to improving their vaccination targets. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra will have to double up the number of doses they are administering so far.
The Times of India quoted Census data to show that 94 crore Indians are above the age of 18, which means 188 crore doses will be required to fully vaccinate all of them. By the end of July, 47 crore doses were administered. This means 141 crore doses will have to be given in the coming 153 days (by December 31, 2021). In short, an average of 92 lakh doses will be needed a day!
So far, states have complained about vaccine shortage, which, they claimed, prevented them from meeting their targets. However, the situation is improving with Centre taking over the reins. New Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the government is hoping to get 15 crore doses in the month of August and 20 crore more the next month. But that may not suffice as it will increase the average number of doses to be administered per day to 115 lakh in October, November and December.
The Union Health Ministry stated on Monday (August 2) that more than 49.64 crore (49,64,98,050) vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far and 9,84,610 more will be provided.
More than 3.14 crore (3,14,34,654) balance and unutilized COVID vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs and private hospitals to be administered, the ministry said.