Updated: June 30, 2021 9:49:17 pm
Reinforcing a recent study by scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV) on the efficacy of Covaxin against new Covid variants, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US on Wednesday said the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech is effective against both Alpha and Delta variants of coronavirus. The NIH said results from two studies suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies against the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.617 (Delta) variants, first identified in the UK and India, respectively.
Earlier in June, Dr Pragya Yadav, one of the scientists who led the ICMR-NIV study, told The Indian Express: “There was a reduction in the neutralisation titre values in people administered Covaxin, against Beta and Delta variants, but this reduction was lower than in those who were naturally infected.”
Neutralising antibody titres in the blood closely correlate with the protection provided by effective vaccination.
So how many Covaxin doses have been administered in the country? Which states lead in Covaxin vaccinations? And how does Covaxin compare with Covishield in terms of doses used?
As of June 30, the number of Covaxin doses administered across the states stood at 3,61,35,097, according to the Centre’s CoWin dashboard. This roughly translates into a little more than 12 per cent of the total doses administered. While the majority of the doses given in the country were Covishield (28,96,05,38), only 84,605 Sputnik V doses were given so far.
Interestingly, besides Assam and Tripura, not a single dose of Covaxin has reached the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram so far.
The trend was similar even in Union Territories such as Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, and Ladakh. Only 12 doses were administered in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 72 in Puducherry. However, no state or union territory has used more Covaxin doses — in percentage figures, not absolute numbers — than Delhi. More than 26 per cent of total vaccine doses administered in the National Capital Region were of Covaxin.
Only Telangana (17.91 per cent), Tamil Nadu (16.74 per cent), Assam (16.61 per cent), Jharkhand (16.57 per cent), and Andhra Pradesh (15.65 per cent) have administered more than 15 per cent doses of Covaxin. And Covaxin’s coverage was in single digits in Goa (2.01%), Jammu-Kashmir (2.61%) Tripura (1.46%), Chhattisgarh (7.30%), and Kerala (8.69%).
In terms of absolute numbers, Maharashtra, which is the first state in the country to administer 3 crore vaccine doses against coronavirus, leads with 37,52,758 Covaxin doses and is followed by Gujarat with 30,53,346 doses.
The slower rollout of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in comparison with the Serum Institute-manufactured Covishield is most likely down to the production capacities of the two vaccine makers.
In April, under fire for the delayed availability of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech said that it takes approximately 120 days to finish manufacturing, testing, and releasing one batch of vaccines.
On May 20, Bharat Biotech’s joint director, Suchitra Ella, said the company will ramp up its vaccine capacity by 17 million doses a month. Besides its Hyderabad and Bangalore facilities, the company said it will manufacture additional Covaxin doses at its rabies vaccine facility in Gujarat.
According to a presentation given by the Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya the same month, the government expects to increase the production of Covaxin to 135 million doses a month by November from 30 million doses in May.
At least four manufacturers have come on board to increase Bharat Biotech’s capacity to make the Covid-19 vaccine. They are Maharashtra’s Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation, the Centre’s Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation, Indian Immunologicals Ltd and a consortium of OmniBRx Biotechnologies, Hester Biosciences and the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre.
Last week, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that it expects to receive 400 million doses of Covaxin between the months of August to December. This is in line with the Centre’s target of fully inoculating the total 94-crore population above 18 by the end of this year.
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