Uncertain Future: Data Says We Are Not Prepared for 18+ Vaccination from May 1

·5-min read

Many States defer the drive to vaccinate all adults quoting vaccine shortage. Last month, the country vaccinated around 9 crore people. This month, the target population base has almost tripled yet there is no answer to say we can exceed the level of vaccination done last month.

The Central Government on Saturday said that in this fortnight from May 1, States and Union Territories would be made available with over 2.12 crore vaccines. Now as State governments and private hospitals can also purchase, they are also trying to place orders but no luck so far as production capacity of manufactures in India is limited to around 7.5 crore doses per month and most of it is booked with the Government of India and with covax initiative to supply vaccine to poorer countries.

Result: India is looking at an uncertain future ahead with its vaccination drive

More and more States are coming forward to say that they cannot begin vaccination for the population base above 18 years from May 1, or today, when the next phase of vaccination began that intends to vaccinate all adult population in the country due to vaccine shortage and the problem has been faced by both, the BJP and the opposition ruled States.

The BJP-ruled State Gujarat began only partial vaccination for 18+ population in 10 districts. Another BJP-ruled Karnataka has asked 18 to 44 years to wait for some more days. Tamil Nadu says vaccine supply is inadequate and cannot begin to vaccinate all 18+ from May 1.

These States have joined a list that is only getting longer and includes Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. They all quote vaccine shortage. Uttar Pradesh, like Gujarat will see a partial vaccination drive for 18+ people with its rollout in just seven districts. Uttarakhand says wait for the second week of May while Goa is waiting for more doses.

The State hardest hit by the crisis, Maharashtra will see only a token vaccination while Delhi, that is witnessing a rapid increase, will conduct only limited rollout. Punjab and West Bengal say they do not have vaccines for 18+, while Kerala says jabs only subject to vaccine availability.

So, was the decision to go for all-adult vaccination taken in a hurry seeing the rapid Covid surge in the country? On April 30, the last day of the phase 3 drive of the vaccination drive, India could vaccinate only 2.7 million people, much lower than the average of 4.5 million a day in the early days of the last month.

When seen in the context of related data sets, it seems India is not having the enough stock of vaccines right now to support the drive that began on Saturday.

Vaccine to people ratio since phase 2 when Covid vaccination was open to general public of a particular age-group:

Vaccination Doses

Target population base

Vaccine vs claimants (based on phase wise vaccination)

Time for complete population based on phase wise rate of vaccination

Phase 2

5 crore

30 crore

1 vaccine, 6 possible claimants

6 times

Phase 3

9 crore

34.51 crore

1 vaccine, 4 possible claimants

4 times

Based on phase 3 of vaccination and targeted population base in phase 4

Phase 4

To begin from today

94.02 crore

1 vaccine, 9 possible claimants

9 times

As per the table above, India was never in a comfortable position to vaccinate its entire population. The second phase of the vaccination, when the drive was opened to the general public, had six claimants for one vaccine dose and the expected time to vaccinate the entire population base was 5X times.

It eased up a bit in the second phase when one vaccine dose had four claimants but the real problem began in the second fortnight of the second phase only when cases started increasing rapidly. March 15 saw a drop to 24,492 cases but after that daily cases have been rising rapidly on almost every single day. On April 1 when India opened up its vaccination drive for the entire 45+ population base, the country had seen over 81,000 cases. The condition worsened with each passing day in the third phase and by the end of the month, we became the first country to cross 4 lakh cases in a single day when India registered 4,01,993 cases.

The exponential increase has forced the country to open vaccination drives for all of the adult population base above 18 years of age but the decision has been taken at a time when we are not prepared with enough stock of Covid vaccines to rapidly vaccinate the intended population segment.

To cover the entire population base of 94.02 crore, as based on Census 2011 projection, we have just 79,13,519 doses at the moment as per the information released by the Central Government, especially when we find that every vaccine dose has 9 claimants now and so, theoretically, the vaccination drive will take 9X times to cover entire targeted population base of India if we can go with pace of the vaccination in the month of April.

The Government of India says so far it has provided 16.37 crore doses to all State governments and UTs but theoretically we were always short of vaccine stock to vaccinate our entire population base. India was short of the vaccine stock for the five months in the second phase to vaccinate the entire population base with the first dose; was short of four months of the vaccine stock in the third phase just concluded; and we are going to run short of the vaccine stock for the nine months if we do not rapidly arrange vaccines, either by producing or importing.

The current stock that the Central Government is going to supply to the States and UTs, 212 crore doses, would not last even seven days as India, on an average, vaccinated, 30 lakh people every day in April, especially when States are not sure when they would get direct supply from the vaccine manufacturers. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, in fact, might place global tenders to secure vaccine stock.

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