Govt Presents 3 Data Sets on India's Vaccine Output; Real Numbers a Mystery
Since 21 May only 2.6 crore doses of Covaxin have been administered in the last two months or 1.3 crore per month.
In response to questions on India’s monthly vaccine (Covishield and Covaxin) production, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar provided three different sets of numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
Further, the numbers of the world’s largest vaccine drive, don’t match what the government had earlier told the Supreme Court in affidavits, Times of India reported.
She added that the monthly vaccine production capacity is planned to be increased:
From 11 crore doses/month to more than 12 crore doses/month for Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield
From 2.5 crore doses/month to 5.8 crore doses/month for Bharat Biotech's Covaxin
Lets’s look at the different numbers provided so far:
Three Sets of Numbers Provided on 20 July
1. In response to a question from Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge, Pawar told the Rajya Sabha, the average monthly production capacity is:
11 crore doses of Covishield
2.5 crore doses of Covaxin
2. In response to a question from BJP MP TG Venkatesh on the same day, Pawar said the estimated production quantity is:
Around 13 crore doses per month for Covishield
Around 1.75 crore for Covaxin
3. In yet another response to Kharge, Pawar said that the MoUs signed between Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech, the biotechnology department’s efforts to upscale production of Covaxin were “expected to enhance the current production from the present 1 crore doses to 10 crore doses in the coming months”, Times of India reported.
Affidavit Filed in the Supreme Court on 9 May
The government had told the Supreme Court on 9 May, Covishield’s production has been ramped up from 5 crore doses per month to 6.5 crore doses, and a further ramp up is expected by July.
It was added that Bharat Biotech has increased Covaxin’s production from 90 lakh doses per month to 2 crore doses per month.
The central government added that further increase up to 5.5 crore doses per month is expected by July end.
As was estimated in May, Covishield production seems to have rammed up to 11 crore or more. However, to pinpoint Covaxin's production based on the numbers provided by the government seems unintelligible.
Affidavit Filed in the Supreme Court on 26 June
According to the government, a total of 51.6 crore doses were to be available by July end. This included 8 crore doses of Covaxin, to be supplied from May to July end.
Now, as per the CoWIN website, 5.1 crore doses of Covaxin have been administered from 16 January.
The affidavit also revealed that 2.55 crore doses had been administered till 21 May.
That means that since 21 May, only 2.6 crore doses of Covaxin have been administered in the last two months or 1.3 crore per month, which is way lower than the expected target of 8 crore doses per month.
Moreover, India’s projected availability of 135 crore doses of vaccines from August to December included 40 crore doses of Covaxin or about 8 crore doses per month.
With lower output and different data sets of vaccine production, it becomes challenging to predict an accurate time period for India's vaccination drive.
(With inputs from The Times of India)
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