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Study suggests India will be largest buyer of COVID-19 vaccine with 1.6 billion doses for 60% of India’s population: How experts believe it might be enough

India is the top coronavirus vaccine buyer, followed by the European Union which has confirmed 1.58 billion doses and the US, which is the worst-hit country, has managed to purchase 1.01 billion doses.

According to a global analysis, India has become the largest buyer of COVID-19 vaccine in the world after procuring 1.6 billion doses, according to a study. Scientists believe that these vaccine doses are enough to cover 800 million people, that is almost 60 per cent of India’s population. This would be sufficient to develop ‘herd immunity’, a number some scientists believe.

The ‘Launch and Scale Speedometer’ analysis, which is updated every two weeks, shows India has confirmed 1.6 billion doses of three vaccines as of November 30, which means that India has bought more doses than countries such as the US and Britain, and more than the European Union as a whole, all of which have in-country vaccine development capacity.

All these COVID-19 vaccine ‘pre-booked’ by India are manufactured by Indian companies

According to the US-based Duke University Global Health Innovation Center, India has bought 500 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate, 1 billion from the US company Novavax and 100 million doses of the Sputnik V candidate from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute.

Noted virologist Shahid Jameel was quoted as saying that all these vaccines pre-purchased by India are being manufactured by Indian companies – Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax by Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune and Sputnik V by Dr Reddy’s Lab in Hyderabad.

Moreover, Bharat Biotech and Zydus-Cadila would also add about 400 million doses annually. In brief, the numbers appear reasonable over 2021 and 2022, said Jameel confirming that India can expect the first 250 million to be vaccinated in 2021.

He noted that 1.6 billion doses would cover 800 million people or 60 per cent of India’s population. This, the virologist said, should be enough to develop herd immunity, a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to infection.

India tops the global chart of pre-booked Covid-19 vaccine doses

Meanwhile, the report by global analysis submitted that India is the top coronavirus vaccine buyer, followed by the European Union which has confirmed 1.58 billion doses and the US, which is the worst-hit country, has managed to purchase just 1.01 billion doses.

Image Sourec: The Straits Times

The report by the Duke University Global Health Innovation Center said that while countries like the US and EU negotiated purchases by investing public funds into vaccine research and development and by using their purchasing power to strike early deals, India smartly moved to the top of the chart by leveraging its large manufacturing infrastructure.

“Countries with manufacturing capacity, such as India and Brazil, have been successful in negotiating large advance market commitments with leading vaccine candidates as part of the manufacturing agreements,” the Duke researchers noted in their analysis.

It is important to mention the figures mentioned here are estimates made by Duke university, and not official figures from govt of India. While India is buying the Oxford virus made in India by Serum Institute, and other vaccines being developed by Indian companies, no purchase agreement has been signed with any foreign company so far.

First round of vaccine estimated to be made available in India by July-August 2021

In November, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said 400-500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were estimated to be made available for 250 to 300 million (25 crores to 30 crores) people in India by July-August 2021.

The first 500 million doses are likely to go to 250 million people in the group that includes frontline workers, healthcare workers, sanitation, emergency services, and security services. This group also includes the elderly above 65 and patients with comorbidities.

India is the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world, manufacturing more than 60 per cent of the vaccines sold across the globe, even without its involvement in the manufacturing of the expensive Pfizer Inc and Moderna vaccines, India is all set to play a crucial role in vaccinating a major part of the world against a pandemic that has so far affected more than 68 million people and resulted into deaths of over 1.58 million.

Of the three vaccine candidates the South Asian country has booked, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine producer, is manufacturing two within India – the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Novavax candidate.

Of the 3.73 billion doses of the Oxford and Novavax vaccines purchased by all countries, about three billion will be made by SII. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is also being manufactured by Dr Reddy’s Lab in Hyderabad.

The Indian pharmaceutical companies are gearing up to prepare eight, more economical vaccines, including the AstraZeneca’s Covishield, which is being called “vaccine for the world” because of the efforts to make it cheap and easily available for poorer nations.

Foreign envoys impressed by India’s preparations for vaccine production

About 64 foreign envoys recently visited India’s COVID-19 facilities in Hyderabad, a trip organised by the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA), in a bid to showcase Indian companies’ prowess in building the vaccine to fight COVID-19. The envoys were briefed about Covid-19 vaccine programmes and how India has taken the lead in fighting the pandemic. India’s leadership and preparedness in vaccine development, backed by the statesmanship of PM Modi, who announced that the vaccines would be available for all of humanity, left the envoys from all over the world extremely impressed.

While Denmark’s envoy to India, Ambassador Svane Freddy, told media that he was proud to be a part of India’s journey in taking the lead on the COVID front, Australia’s ambassador to India, Barry O’Farrell, also had glowing words of praise for India’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities. 

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