Two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of this year: Plan and a reality check

Amid the vaccine shortage across states, vaccination has fallen by half compared to April and many centres have halted the vaccination drive. Now, India’s head of COVID-19 Task Force estimated that between August and December this year, vaccine availability in the country will be 216 crore doses or 2 billion-plus doses.

Dr. V K Paul said that the estimation is based on data provided by eight COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers. The growing criticism against the government for failing to place orders correctly led to the clarification.

“We have contacted the manufacturers and sought information on the availability of vaccines for August to December. In this period, 216 crore doses would become available in India. The vaccine will be made available for all as we move forward…,” said V K Paul.

Vaccines

According to the government, the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be producing the doses of Covishield and Novavax vaccines. Between August to December, the plant will produce 75 crore doses of Covishield and 20 crore doses of Novavax vaccine. So far, the centre has received 27.6 crore doses of Covidshield from SII of which 16 crore doses will be sent to states between May and July.

Bharat Biotech will produce 55 crore doses of Covaxin and 10 crore doses of the BB Nasal vaccine which is under Phase 1-2 clinical trials. The company has to provide 5 crore doses to the centre between the month of May and July. Ramping up the production will play a crucial role in delivering the 55 crore doses between August and December.

Biological E’s vaccine started its Phase 1-2 clinical trials last October. Now the company has received permission to start Phase 3 of its clinical trials. For Phase 3, about 15 sites across the country have been selected.

Zydus Cadila is currently in the last phase 3 trial, soon the company will apply for licensure. Nearly 5 crore doses of this DNA vaccine will be produced between August to December. Gennova’s mRNA-based vaccine will also apply for the license and plans to produce around 6 crore doses.

Russian-made Sputnik vaccine will be available in limited doses from next week. “Sputnik vaccine has arrived in India. We have received a limited supply. It will be available from early next week in the market. From July onwards, the production will begin and the country expects 15.6 crores doses between August to December,” added Paul.

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