More than half of the adult population has yet to receive even a single dose, despite a slight improvement in coverage in July
Though India has stepped up the Covid-19 vaccination pace, administering nearly 13 crore doses in July with a daily average of 41.5 lakh, it is still not enough to meet the target of inoculating the entire adult population by the end of this year. The forecast of an imminent third wave hitting the country brings a sense of urgency to the task. The country needs to double its vaccination rate to reach the goal set by the government. The task ahead is monumental. At present, more than half of the adult population has yet to receive even a single dose, despite a slight improvement in the coverage in July compared with last month when 11.27 crore doses were given. Apart from speeding up the vaccination drive, the Centre and States must continue to focus on enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour among the people — using masks and maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene. India’s adult population is estimated at close to 94 crore which means 188 crore doses are needed to fully vaccinate them all. As of July end, 47 crore doses have been administered leaving 141 crore to be done over the remaining 153 days of the year at a daily average of 92 lakh. After a few flip-flops in the vaccination policy and prodding by the Supreme Court, the Centre took over the sourcing of 75% of the vaccines on June 21 while the private sector has been allowed to procure and administer the remaining 25%.
There is a need to further reduce the gap between rural and urban areas in vaccination coverage. The results of the latest seroprevalence survey showed that the Covid-19 infection could spread just as readily in rural areas as urban areas. This makes it imperative for the authorities to ensure that the gap is bridged quickly. Similarly, the gender gap issue also needs to be addressed through appropriate interventions. One of the key reasons for the government’s inability to meet the vaccination targets is that Bharat Biotech, the indigenous vaccine developer, has not been able to boost its output. The Centre has been counting on deliveries of over 70 million Covaxin doses per month from August. But the company will be able to supply 35 million doses next month. It remains to be seen whether the expected stocks — 500 million doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India and 400 million doses from Bharat Biotech between August and December — would be made available. The success of the vaccination programme will largely depend on the unhindered supplies to meet the huge requirement. Both the companies will need to ramp up production. Also, the process for procuring foreign vaccines must be speeded up.
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