A Peek into India’s Vaccine Roadmap: 135 Cr Doses by Year-End, Deals for Another 60 Cr Underway

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The Centre in its affidavit in the Supreme Court said the country is expected to get 21 crore more vaccines by the end of July and 135 crore vaccines between August and December, 2021.

The first written admission by the Centre on vaccine doses availability in the country has invited criticism as it had quoted to supply a much higher doses of the vaccine in the past.

In May, the Centre had said that country would get 216 Covid vaccines by December. BJP's President further scaled the number up it when he recently said that India was going to ensure that 257 crore vaccine doses will be available by this year-end.

However, one should rather see the admission made in the affidavit as based only on the final vaccine procurement deals, so far. There are many deals that are still a work in progress. The Centre is trying to procure more vaccines and they can be added to the list in the near future.

As per the Centre’s affidavit submitted in the apex court, the July 31 target is 51.6 crore doses. India is currently using three Covid-19 vaccines and all these are two-shot vaccines.

This effectively means these 51.6 crore vaccines will be able to vaccinate 25.8 crore people. Of these, 51.6 crore vaccine doses, 35.6 crore have already been provided, something that reflects in the total vaccinations done so far: 26,53,84,559 individuals vaccinated with first dose and 5,63,75,518 crore people fully vaccinated with 11,27,51,036 crore doses.

The other stock of the vaccine doses came from the direct procurements by states and union territories governments and private hospitals. Under the new liberalised vaccine policy from May 1 to June 20, the Centre and private hospitals shared 50% responsibility each of making the vaccine doses available.

Now, under the new vaccination policy being implemented from June 21, the government will procure 75% of the vaccines produced by by the manufacturers and transfer them free of cost to the states and union territories while 25% quota has been left for the private hospitals.

The affidavit further says 135 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines would be procured and made available between August and December to complete the vaccination process for all adult Indians: i.e., 94.02 crore Indians as per the Census 2011 projection.

As per the GoI affidavit, based on the supplies so far and procurements possible till December 2021, India will be able to fully vaccinate its entire adult population by December 2021.

But India's total population, based on the Census 2011 projection, is 136.13 crore, meaning thereby the country needs a significantly larger number of doses to vaccinate its entire population base.

Going by the GoI's affidavit in the Supreme Court, it seems the government will be able to procure the doses of vaccine near to or as announced earlier.

In May, the GOI ensured the country to supply 216 crore vaccine doses that can fully vaccinate 108 crore individuals if they are two-shot vaccines. Then, BJP President JP Nadda recently scaled it up higher to 257 crore vaccines doses that can fully vaccinate 128.5 crore individuals.

Vaccine Doses in Pipeline

Deal for vaccines that can vaccinate 50 crore people may be signed soon

Deals for 60 crore doses of the Covid vaccine, that can inoculate 50 crore people are expected to be signed soon. The Serum Institute of India (SII) has begun production of Novavax, a US-based two-dose vaccine with efficacy level of 90.4%. Novavax has the similar efficacy levels as shown by Pfizer vaccine (91.3%) and Moderna (91%). The GoI estimates 20 crore Novavax vaccines can be delivered between September and December.

The Centre is also in discussion with Johnson & Johnson for its Covid vaccine, a single shot vaccine being used in the US. The US pharmaceutical major had approached the government in April and now with the waiver of conducting mandatory bridging trials, India can expect its supply soon.

To add, India is going to be a mass production hub of the J&J vaccine with Hyderabad-based pharma company Biological E going to produce its 60 crore doses annually. Even if J&J, through imports and local supply through Biological E production, can supply 30 crore doses in the next six months, it can vaccine 30 crore individuals.

Then, 10 crore doses of nasal vaccine are expected to be supplied by Bharat Biotech. The manufacturer has submitted the phase-1 trial data of its intranasal vaccine candidate, BBV154. Being a single shot Covid vaccine, it can vaccinate 10 crore individuals.

When combined together, i.e. 156 crore doses promised in the affidavit, and 60 crore doses that may next be finalised, GOI will be in a position to supply 216 crore vaccine doses in the next six months that can vaccinate 145.8 crore individuals.

Other options

Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, which is working on India’s first mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, can deliver 6 crore vaccine doses if the company gets approval for its vaccine candidate. Being developed with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, USA, the vaccine is going through its phase-1 trial.

India is also exploring options to make Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines available in the country and discussions with the respective companies are in an advanced stage. While the country may not get Moderna vaccines this year with its production capacity already booked, Pfizer may supply 5 to 6 crore of doses to India this year. Pfizer's Covid vaccine requires two shots to fully vaccinate a person.

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