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Who Is Responsible For COVID Vaccine Shortage, SII or Government?

While around 200 crore doses of vaccine are currently required in India, close to 45 crore doses have been ordered.

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2 min read

Video Producer: Maushmee Singh

Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam & Vivek Gupta

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in the country and the weapons to fight the virus are not yet ready. There are no beds, oxygen, or ventilators. The only hope is vaccines. But it seems that the government has failed most of the country's population on this front too.

Most of our vaccines are coming from the Serum Institute of India (SII). SII has stated that till date it has received an order of 26 crore vaccine doses from the government, while the order of 7 crore vaccine doses have been placed with Bharat Biotech. This makes a pool of 33 crore doses. A report in The Deccan Herald has quoted a response to a RTI as saying that the government has ordered 35.1 crore doses of vaccine till the month of July. Accordingly, 35 crore doses mean vaccine for 17.5 crore people.

SII also confirms an order of 10-11 crore vaccines of the state governments and hospitals. Accordingly, close to 45 crore doses of vaccine have been ordered for 22.5 crore people.

While the population of the country is 139 crore, a pool of 100 crore people fall above the age of 18 years and for the same, close to 200 crore vaccine doses are required.

While developed nations have stocked five times the number of doses produced in their country, India has only secured an order of 45 crore doses till July, as against the required 200 crore vaccine doses.

The supply of Sputnik V will start after a few months, while the supply of Pfizer and Moderna will also take time.

The CEO of SII, Adar Poonawala in an interview with Times UK has said that he has been in pressure for providing the vaccine and has been threatened for the same. In another interview with The Financial Times, he says that it was the government’s responsibility for the shortage of vaccine. The orders were placed ‘very late’ with him. The government’s policy was not clear and hence the blame has been put on him. The funds were also provided on 28 April.

It is understandable that Poonawala is a businessman. Why would they build the capacity of the production for which they had not received the order? If the government enters into an agreement with four other producers tomorrow, then who will compensate for the money spent on building SII’s capacity?

The US had signed up seven companies before any vaccine was invented. The companies were given money in advance. Today, US has excess vaccine and India has asked for help. India who was once the exporter of vaccine, is now an importer.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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