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Centre asks Serum Institute for 100 million doses of Covishield as it plans to ramp up vaccination

Experts with the Maharashtra Covid task force and industrialists in Pune called for decentralisation of the vaccination process.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: March 19, 2021 10:02:16 pm
Serum Institute of IndiaThe Serum Institute of India in Pune. (Express photo: Ashish Kale)

The Centre has asked Serum Institute of India (SII) to manufacture another 100 million doses of the Covishield vaccine for it as it plans to ramp up vaccination across the country.

Officials from SII said so far, the institute had sent 66 million doses of Covishield to the government. They added that sixty million doses had been sent to other countries via Covax.

When asked about how much time would SII require to manufacture the doses, an official said it was difficult to arrive at a timeline as the process of making a vaccine is a continuous one.

The Centre ordered 11 million doses of the jab in January from the Pune-based manufacturer. Apart from India, SII has been providing Covishield to several poor nations through the Covax facility led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and others. According to officials, it is likely that more than 70 countries have received the vaccine.

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India on Friday went past the 4 core-mark regarding vaccinations, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed. The country has approved two vaccines against Covid-19 — Covishield manufactured by SII and the indigenously-developed Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech.

Experts with the state Covid task force and industrialists in Pune have called for decentralisation of the vaccination process.

“The entire vaccination campaign is centrally controlled and private sector participation is required. A large amount of healthcare delivery in India happens through private sectors and they need to be involved to execute the vaccination programme. Just like UK got out of the second wave quite well by using general practitioners and home vaccinations, we can also do the needful,” Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the task force, told The Indian Express.

Dr Joshi added that the Centre needs to ensure that the vulnerable groups were vaccinated as early as possible.

Sudhir Mehta, chairperson of Mahratta Chamber Of Commerce, Industries And Agriculture, told The Indian Express that the country’s healthcare model was largely private and to meet targets, say of vaccinating at least one lakh people in Pune, increasing centres in the private sector seemed to be the way out.

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