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Pace of daily COVID jabs in May lags domestic availability

Even as Covid vaccination was opened for those in the 18-45 age group from May 1, supplies are inadequate to meet the expanded demand. But, a reconciliation of current domestic output of Covid-19 vaccines with daily vaccination chart shows that the pace of vaccination in May is below the available supply.

Experts think that this could be due to ongoing lockdowns, logistics issues and vaccine hesitancy.

The daily average vaccine administration in the country has nearly halved to 19.2 lakh doses between May 11 and 20 as opposed to an average of 36.5 lakh doses every day during April 1-10. This is not entirely due to lack of vaccine supply. According to news reports and vaccine production data shared by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, the two manufacturers have collectively produced eight crore doses in April and May with Serum contributing seven crore doses of Covishield and Bharat Biotech producing one crore doses of Covaxin each month.

However, in May, the average vaccine output of the two vaccine-makers stands at 25.80 lakh doses per day. But the average vaccination between May 1 and 20 is only 18.44 lakh doses per day, resulting in a gap of about 7 lakh doses per day between supply and actual usage.

The Union Health Ministry also said on Saturday that more than 1.9 crore Covid vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered and added that 40,650 vaccine doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the States/UTs within the next three days.

Why the gap?
Dr Ashwin Karuppan, Senior Consultant-Internal Medicine, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai, says local lockdowns curtailing free movement of people, over-concentration of vaccines in some States, shifting focus of hospitals from vaccination to Covid treatment and vaccine hesitancy are some of the major reasons for the falling vaccination rates across the country.

The Centre’s new Covid-19 policy from May 1, which allowed private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure up to 50 per cent of the vaccines produced directly from the manufacturers, also seem to have hampered the vaccination process.

“Obviously, the vaccination numbers have come down because each hospital will now have to talk to the independent manufacturers, negotiate pricing, strike a deal with them and start the supply process,” said CK Nageswaran, Facility Director, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai. The Hindu BusinessLine