Around one crore people could be vaccinated per day in India from July-end, suggested All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria, who is also a member of the national COVID-19 task force.
To achieve the target, the domestic production of vaccine doses needs to ramped up, Dr Guleria said on May 29, adding that the country also needs to maximise the import of jabs from abroad.
"India hopes to vaccinate one crore people daily by the end of July," the AIIMS chief said while speaking to NDTV, and added that the country "needs to ramp up production and get as many vaccines as it can from abroad".
The need to boost vaccine production, as stated by Dr Guleria, comes in the backdrop of several states reporting a shortage in vaccine supply. The shortfall has hindered the inoculation programmes in some states, particularly for the 18-44 age group.
A day earlier, the Union Health Ministry said the production of Covaxin - one of the two COVID-19 vaccines being currently administered in all parts of the country - would be doubled by June and "then increased nearly 6-7 fold by July/August".
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The statement issued by the ministry claimed that the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited would be able to supply 6-7 crore monthly doses of Covaxin by July-August. "It is expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021," it further added.
The supply of the other vaccine, Covishield - developed by Pune's Serum Institute of India (SII) - would also be drastically increased in the days to come, suggested Dr VK Paul, member of government's topmost think tank Niti Aayog.
The SII is ramping up the production of Covishield "from 6.5 crore doses per month month to around 11 crore or more in coming months," Dr Paul said in a press briefing on May 27.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, told reporters on May 28 that the vaccination exercise in India will be completed by December 2021.The Health Ministry has given roadmap on how 216 crore doses would be available in India by the year-end, he said, adding that the doses would be used to vaccinate 108 crore people.