As India Offers Free Covid Vaccination, Millions Receive Vaccine Daily

With the first day of the new vaccination policy by the Government of India coming into effect from Monday, June 21stst, India administered a record 8.596 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The new policy, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, ends a complex system introduced just last month of buying and distributing vaccines that overburdened states and led to inequities in how the shots were handed out.

The new vaccination policy, which took considerable prodding and criticism from the Supreme Court before the Centre decided to act, will see the government purchasing 75% of the vaccines produced by the manufacturers and distributing it free to states, based on their population, disease burden and vaccination progress, with the remaining 25% production allocated for private hospitals. However, experts say that India needs to administer a minimum of 1 crore doses a day in order to inoculate its 95-crore strong adult population by December. Moreover, vaccine availability is still patchy. That also explains why over 82% of the doses administered are the first shot.India’s vaccination record has been middling among the world’s 30 most populous countries with a rank 16 among them in terms of doses per 100 population. At 19.6 as of June 19, India’s level is less than a fifth of what the UK has achieved.

India is a key supplier of vaccines around the world, and its missteps at home have led it to stop exports of shots, leaving millions of people around the world waiting unprotected. Only about 3.5% of Indians are fully vaccinated and while supporters hope the policy change will make vaccine distribution more equitable, poor planning means shortages will continue. The rank remains 16 among these 30 countries even if we were to consider the proportion of the population fully vaccinated, but in this case the gulf between the UK (45.8%) and India (3.6%) is considerably wider.

While the government expects vaccine availability in India to be ramped up to 1 crore doses a day from July and August, there’s little certainty of the timeline being adhered to even as vaccine manufacturers try to scale up production. Unlike other cookie-cutter products, scaling up vaccine production is a complex process — in fact, just the process of filling up 10 lakh doses into vials takes 2 days following which, quality checks on the vials will consume another fortnight, before they can be shipped out. And that doesn’t include the production process which itself takes days — 100 machines working 30 hours will be able to produce 30 lakh doses.

The Delta variant, which appears to be both more transmissible and cause more severe disease, is spreading more rapidly in U.S. counties with lower vaccination rates, according to new research from genomics firm Helix soon to be published as a preprint study, CNN reports. The results underscore the urgency of vaccinating as many Americans as possible before the Delta variant becomes the dominant form of the coronavirus in the country. Brazil has officially reported more than 500,000 total COVID-19 deaths, per TIME’s tracker, more than any country aside from the U.S. However, as in other countries, Brazil’s true number of deaths is likely higher than the official count. The new milestone comes amid mounting domestic opposition to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who critics say failed to adequately handle the country’s outbreak

Expressing happiness over the fact that 80 lakh people got the vaccine jab on Monday, the Prime Minister praised the frontline Corona warriors for their hard work. “Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight Covid-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the frontline warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!” he tweeted. India’s cumulative vaccination coverage has exceeded 28.80 ll crores on Monday, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said on Monday after 80 lakh dose was administered on single day.

According to the data released by the Union Health Ministry on Monday morning, a total of 28,00,36,898 vaccine doses have been administered in the country through 38,24,408 sessions, including 30,39,996 doses on Sunday. As many as 1,01,25,143 healthcare workers (HCWs) have received their first dose while 70,72,595 have been administered the second dose. Similarly, 1,71,73,646 frontline workers (FLWs) have been inoculated with the first dose while 90,51,173 have received their second dose.

A total of 5,59,54,551 people aged between 18 and 44 years have received their first dose, while 12,63,242 have been inoculated with the second dose. As many as 8,07,11,132 people aged between 45 and 59 years have received their first dose, while 1,27,56,299 have been administered the second dose. A total of 6,47,77,302 people aged over 60 years have received their first dose, while 2,11,51,815 have been inoculated with the second dose. (With inputs from IANS)

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