A Month Since Phase 3 Rollout, How Many in 18-44 Group Got Shots?
The third Phase of the vaccination has coincided with an acute vaccine supply shortage across the country.
It's been close to a month since India rolled out Phase 3 of the COVID vaccination strategy.
The announcement to start vaccinating citizens between 18-44 years of age from 1 May, along with senior citizens and health workers and those with co-morbidities had come at a very crucial point in April, when India's COVID-19 cases were spiking by close to 4 lakh cases in a day. That made it imperative to vaccinate as many people as soon as possible.
But how far have we progressed in a month since the rollout?
As of Friday, 28 May, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the country has administered 20,57,20,660 doses.
Out of those vaccinated, 4,38,70,568 have received both the jabs, while 16,18,50,092 have received the first dose of vaccine. Therefore, currently only three percent of India’s entire population is fully-vaccinated, while only 11 percent of India have received the first dose.
The third Phase of the vaccination has coincided with an acute vaccine supply shortage across the country. While many states had to delay the immunisation process over lack of vaccine doses, some states have had to halt the drives temporarily.
How Many in 18-44 Age Group Vaccinated in May?
Maharashtra, which has delivered the highest number of doses in the country with 2,07,60,193 vaccine doses, has halted the process from 12 May. Likewise, Delhi, which vaccinated 9,15,275 people between the 18-44 age group has also temporarily had to halt the drive from 24 May. Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are the other states that aren't vaccinating currently.
So how many have been vaccinated, with at least the first dose, in this age group?
According to the report of the government’s Technical Group on Population Projections, the total population of Indian citizens who fall between 18-44 years of age, is estimated to be around 59.4 crore. And since the Phase 3 rollout, reports say that as of 24 May, India has given out 1 crore doses across different states for this age group, that makes it a mere 1.7 percent.
Most of the population between 18-44 age group have only taken the first shot and since the Phase 3 rollout, the gap between Covishield doses have also been extended to 12-16 weeks. However, the four to six weeks gap between the first and second dose of Covaxin remains unchanged.
But looking at the current pace of vaccination, Dr Swapneil Parikh, an internal medicine doctor and scientist says that it doesn’t inspire confidence.
“The stated objective was to vaccinate 30 crore people in six months (mid July). That’s 60 crore doses. We have administered just 20.5 crore doses. Which means we have less than two months to administer twice the doses we have in the last four months. The daily vaccination figures don’t inspire confidence.”Dr Swapneil Parikh, an internal medicine doctor and scientist
“At the current rate it will take over a year and a half to just to vaccinate adults. Hopefully the daily vaccinations will increase once supplies increase,” he says.
The government estimates that it can triple the vaccine supply from July, with Indian manufactures now preparing to start the production of Russian COVID vaccine — Sputnik V by August along with Covishield and Covaxin.
As per reports, in a submission before the Supreme Court on 9 May, the Centre said that the manufacturing capacity for Covishield, Covaxin and even Sputnik V could go beyond 14 crore doses a month by July 2021.
Currently, the government told the court, Serum Institute of India was producing around 6.5 crore doses of Covishield a month while Bharat Biotech was producing 2 crore doses of Covaxin a month that is expected to go upto 5.5 crore doses in July.
Given the current pace of vaccination, there are a lot of concerns about how long it will take to vaccinate the entire country. Several estimates are projecting that the vaccination drive is likely to accelerate only towards the end of this year, or perhaps the beginning of 2022.
“At the current rate it will take over a year and a half just to vaccinate adults. Hopefully the daily vaccinations will increase once supplies increase. I don’t see us hitting our initial target of 60 crore doses in the stimulated time frame. Hopefully the vaccination speed will pick up in August,” Dr Parikh says.
“We are vaccinating too slowly to stay ahead of the virus. We need to scale vaccine import, manufacturing, and distribution, like our lives depend on it because they really do,”he says.
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