As of May 1, 595 million adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were officially eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. State governments and private hospitals must vaccinate this group of adults. However, based on the number of vaccine doses currently available from state governments that will be available in the following days and weeks, it is likely that only a very small percentage of adults between the ages of 18 and 44 will receive a vaccine. , if at all.
The two private vaccine manufacturers – Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech – are required to supply 50 percent of vaccines produced to central government and the rest to state governments and private hospitals. The central government will vaccinate 300 million people for free in three priority groups – health workers, frontline workers and people over 45 years old. With two doses to be given per person, that would mean 600 million doses to be given to 300 million people.
But as of April 29, three and a half months after the mass vaccination program began on January 16, only 150.21 million doses were administered. Of those vaccinated, more than 120.5 million received the first dose and the rest also received the second dose. Only 2.7% of adults are fully immunized and 12.9% receive a single dose. This would mean that an additional 450 million doses would have to be administered free of charge to fully cover the three priority groups.
According to a GDP publication, as of April 29, more than 10 million doses are currently available with states and union territories. At 1.1 million, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of vaccine doses available, followed by Bihar (0.83 million), Maharashtra (0.74 million), Delhi (0.56 million), Karnataka (0.55 million), Assam (nearly 0.55 million) and Gujarat (0.46 million). Tamil Nadu only has 0.23 million doses, while Telangana and Kerala have meager 29,700 and 78,700 doses, respectively.
Twelve states will receive a total of 2.4 million doses of the vaccine by May 2. At nearly 0.35 million, Uttar Pradesh will receive the most doses, while Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Gujarat will receive 0.3 million doses each. Kerala, which has only 78,700 doses remaining, will only receive 0.1 million additional doses.
As the mass vaccination program began on January 16, daily vaccine consumption was low. At 0.8 million, February 25 saw the highest number of vaccinations before the third and fourth priority group of people over 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities began from March 1. .
But with the government making anyone over 45 ineligible for vaccine-eligible comorbid status, the vaccination rate has risen sharply, reaching 4.2 million on April 2. with vaccine shortages. During the last 10 days, the number of daily vaccinations has fallen further; it fell to 2.2 million on April 29.
While private hospitals are also allowed to vaccinate adults between the ages of 18 and 44 as per government policy, in a letter dated April 28, the Serum Institute told a community medicine specialist at the Hamdard Institute of Delhi medical and research sciences that he was forced to supply vaccines to private hospitals. “Our current obligation to meet existing government requirements and to meet additional demand from state governments for released and accelerated immunization makes it difficult to independently meet the requirements of a large number of private hospitals. The letter says.
The letter adds, “We urge you to access the vaccine when it becomes available in the private market supply chain channels, which will take approximately five to six months from now. In the meantime, it is suggested to contact the state government for the provision of vaccines, which was provided earlier for the category of citizens over 45 years old. “
States have not received vaccines from the two manufacturers to immunize adults between the ages of 18 and 44. On April 30, Delhi and Goa said they had not received vaccines for people between the ages of 18 and 44. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called on people aged 18-44 not to queue outside COVID vaccination centers from May 1, saying Delhi has yet to receive a vaccine, while Goan Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the state will start immunizing as soon as possible it receives the vaccine.
The Serum Institute currently manufactures between 60 and 65 million doses per month, and production will only be increased by June-July, when around 100 million doses will be produced per month. Bharat Biotech is also increasing its capacity. According to the government statement, production of Covaxin will drop from the current 10 million doses per month to 100 million doses by September. A six-fold increase is expected by July-August.
While expanding eligibility to adults aged 18 to 44 is a welcome move, vaccine shortages are likely to persist for a few months. According to the government, 20.45 million beneficiaries have registered with CoWIN as of April 29. And with the central government only receiving 50% of the supplies and state governments competing for a share of the remaining 50% of the supplies, immunization of all priority / age groups should be affected for at least a few months. This is when new daily cases and deaths reach new heights; the new cases hit 3.86 lakh (0.386 million) on April 29.