After vaccine ‘maitri’, India focuses on home truth of Covid-19 inoculation: SII CEO Poonawalla hints at future plan

Accordingly, he asked the governments of other countries to wait patiently for the supply of Covishield.

Coronavirus vaccine
India began administering the second doses to healthcare workers on February 13.

Coronavirus vaccination: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, India has been stepping up to support several countries across the world by providing them huge amounts of coronavirus vaccine doses. This has been possible due to the massive manufacturing capacity of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, and Pune’s Serum Institute of India (SII), which is the biggest vaccine supplier in the world in terms of the number of vaccine doses produced. Thus, India has been comfortably carrying out vaccination at home as well as sending out doses of SII-manufactured Covishield, which is a version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Bharat Biotech’s indigenously developed Covaxin.

However, now that the country is ramping up the vaccination drive, SII has been asked to prioritise the needs of the country (India) and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. In a post on microblogging site Twitter, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla wrote that he has been directed by the government to prioritise the vaccine requirements of the country, which requires doses in huge amounts due to the massive population. Accordingly, he asked the governments of other countries to wait patiently for the supply of Covishield, as the company tried to figure out how to maintain the right balance between the needs of India and that of other countries.

Notably, India has been sending out doses of coronavirus vaccine to various nations under different types of agreements to help them begin and undertake vaccination drives for their respective populations. This had been feasible, because when India began the massive vaccination drive in January this year, it decided to first vaccinate the healthcare workers as the first group among priority beneficiaries, followed by frontline workers as the second one. At the moment, the healthcare workers are receiving second doses, while frontline workers are receiving their first doses of the vaccine.

But now, India is about to ramp up the drive to vaccinate the third of the priority group – people aged above 50 years. This group contains about 26 crore people, significantly more than the number of beneficiaries vaccinated so far. As per the current plans, these beneficiaries would begin receiving jabs next month. This means that the supplies needed to undertake the vaccination of this group would be much more and they would be needed soon, justifying the government’s directive to prioritise India’s needs.

Covid-19: Vaccination in India so far

Till now, nearly 1.11 crore doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the country. Of these, over 1.01 crore have been administered as first doses, while 9.6 lakh beneficiaries, all of whom are healthcare workers, have received second doses of the vaccine. While close to 64 lakh healthcare workers have received the first dose, over 37.3 frontline workers have received the second dose.

On Saturday, a total of over 4.32 lakh doses had been administered the vaccine, among which 2.56 lakh beneficiaries received the first dose, and over 1.76 lakh were given the second dose.

The highest number of doses has been administered in Uttar Pradesh, where over 11.5 lakh doses have been administered, of which 10.66 lakh were first doses and 85,752 were second doses. Meanwhile, Maharashtra stands as a distant second, having administered a total of 9,22,728 doses, with well over 8.75 lakh being first doses.

India began administering the second doses to healthcare workers on February 13, and seven states account for a whopping 60% of the second doses that have been administered so far, with the highest being Karnataka. Karnataka accounts for the highest number of second doses, standing at over 1.13 lakh second doses, which translates to 11.81% of the second doses administered in the country so far. The state is followed by Odisha, which accounts for 9.89% of the national total, with Telangana at the third position at 9.07%. Uttar Pradesh is at fourth place, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal.

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