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Friday, July 30, 2021

India’s vaccination drive: A status check

In Madhya Pradesh, which administered 17.44 lakh doses on Monday, the numbers sharply fell to 4,842 the next day. The sharp decline was also seen in Haryana (5.45 lakh to 76,628) and Karnataka (11.59 lakh to 3.95 lakh).

Written by Leela Prasad | New Delhi |
Updated: June 23, 2021 8:33:43 pm
A beneficiary getting vaccinated at a Municipal School in Navi Mumbai. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

While vaccinating one crore people everyday remains the target for the Central Government, and the record 90-lakh plus vaccinations on Monday was a push in that direction, sustaining the momentum going forward will largely depend on streamlining supply to the states and availability of vaccines.

In the run-up to this week’s record-breaking figure, the highest number of doses administered weekly was 2.47 crore between April 3 to 9, when the impact of the second wave was beginning to be felt on the healthcare system. As cases began to rise and new variants emerged, vaccinations declined throughout April and for most of May, going below the 2 crore-mark. The lowest was for the period of May 15 to 21, when a little over 92 lakh doses were given.

The April-May months were also marked by vaccine shortages and changes in the vaccine procurement policy, where states were allowed to purchase 25 per cent of the total vaccine production directly from manufacturers. However, the pace did pick up in the following weeks and weekly vaccinations rose above the 2 core-mark in the second week of June, but the daily numbers never crossed 50 lakh; the previous daily record was 40.3 lakh on April 5.

The question of sustaining the pace stems from the fact that vaccination rates fell the day after the start of the new vaccination phase, in which the Centre has taken over the role of procurement and distribution. Take Madhya Pradesh, for instance, which administered 17.44 lakh doses on Monday but the numbers sharply fell to 4,842 the next day in the state. The sharp decline was also seen in Haryana (5.45 lakh to 76,628) and Karnataka (11.59 lakh to 3.95 lakh). But Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh were some of the states where the doses administered were higher than the previous day. Overall, however, the vaccinations fell to 54.22 lakh on Tuesday.

While there is no data available for states of the percentage of population fully vaccinated, it is 3.8 per cent for the country as a whole, according to Our World in Data. In sharp contrast, Brazil, also among the top 3 worst-hit countries like India, has vaccinated 11.7 per cent of its population. India’s immediate neighbours also fare poorly but it is only because they largely depend on vaccine imports. Sri Lanka has vaccinated 3.9 per cent, Bangladesh 2.6, Myanmar 2.3, and Pakistan 1.6. China has fully vaccinated 22.3 crore but the percentage of the population vaccinated isn’t available.

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