The shortage of vaccines in the country has deteriorated the Covid woes. Now that a daily mark of 3.5 lakh cases is a persistent phenomenon, new cities are emerging as the epicentres of the infection. The virus has also expanded its deadly arms in rural areas. Amid this, the status of the vaccination drive narrates a despairing story. The month of May has shown a drastic decline in the number of people taking the jab. In April, India vaccinated 30 lakh people per day on average. This has dropped to 16 lakh people being vaccinated daily so far this month, a 44.46 percent decrease. So far, India has been able to fully vaccinate only 2.4 % of its total population.
The central government has distributed 17.35 crore vaccine doses to state governments and UTs. And there is no way to increase production in the immediate future. The companies producing vaccines in the country, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, are currently producing 7 to 8 crore doses per month, whereas 20 to 25 crore doses are expected to operate the vaccination at full capacity.
Owing to the vaccine shortage, several states have not started inoculation drive for people aged 18-44. On Friday, the Kerala High Court ordered the central government to provide a timeline for the state’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution. Punjab is waiting for 1 lakh doses from the central government to begin 18+ vaccines, but it also requires 2.63 crores more. Due to a shortage of vaccine doses, Punjab’s vaccination program has been sputtering. The state now prioritises target groups and areas to vaccinate the most vulnerable people first.
With several states echoing the demands of supplying them with more vaccine and the cases spiralling in the country, the two vaccine companies (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech) producing only 7-8 crores a month do not augur well for India unless the centre revamps its vaccination production.