On Friday (July 16), the Indian government placed an order for 660 million (66 crores) Covid-19 vaccines worth Rs 14,505 crore to be used between August-December this year. It is the single largest vaccine procurement by the government so far.
The development comes after State authorities and health experts have expressed concern about the possibility of vaccine shortage in the country. Reuters reported that the Modi government has kept an ambitious target to inoculate 94.4 crore individuals with both doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Amidst concerns of vaccination centres being shut and long queues to receive their jabs, the government has placed orders for additional 37.5 crore doses of Covishield (manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca) and 28.5 crore doses of Covaxin (developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech).
The order is in line with the Union Government’s estimate of 135 crore doses being available between August-December, as stated in its affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on June 26. Apart from the order for 66 crore doses, the government has made an advance payment to reserve 30 crore doses of Hyderabad based Biological-E’s Corbevax vaccine, according to sources.
According to the affidavit of the govt filed in the Supreme Court, 5 crore doses of Zydus Cadila’s vaccine and 10 crore doses of Sputnik V will also be available by December. A total of 50 crore doses of Covishield and 40 crore doses of Covaxin as expected to be available during this period.
Meanwhile, the vaccine manufacturers have also increased their monthly production. Reportedly, the Serum Institute of India (SII) is now producing 100 million Covishield doses (10 crores) each month. At the same time, Bharat Biotech has increased production from 1 crore Covaxin doses/ month in April to 7 crore doses in July/August.
While speaking about the matter, Professor Rijo John claimed, “I expect the vaccine shortage to continue and as per the planned vaccine supply, it appears that the daily average for the whole of July will stay below 4 million.” John is an Economist and a professor at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in Kochi in Kerala. On Friday, about 38.78 lac Coronavirus vaccine doses were administered, thereby taking the total to 39.53 crores. On June 21 last month, India vaccinated a whopping 91 lac people, the highest in a single day.
Serum Institute of India to produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine from September
On Tuesday (July 13), the Pune-based Serum Institute of India announced that it is going to start the production of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. The announcement was made by CEO Kirill Dmitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, who said Sputnik V would be manufactured by SII starting September this year.
Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is promoting the vaccine globally, said the plan was to manufacture over 300 million doses of the vaccine per year in India, making it one of the leading production hubs for Sputnik V. “The parties intend to produce over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India per year with the first batch expected in September 2021,” the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement.