As per statements by the govt and vaccine manufacturers, 27 lakh vaccine doses are produced on average per day.
But after just 16.2 lakh doses administered in May so far, states are claiming shortages.
That means over 10 lakh doses are unaccounted for.
8-9 Crores Of Covaxin And Covishield Produced Per Month
The govt said to the Supreme Court and Serum Institute of India (SII) itself confirmed that they are producing 60-70 million (6-7 crore) doses of Covishield a month.
The same goes for Bharat Biotech which corroborated the govt’s statement which said their firm is producing 2 crore doses of Covaxin currently.
With both of the makers combined, the total vaccine dose output a month is still 8 crore.
However, the actual vaccination figures for this month, as procured from the CoWin portal, tell a different story.
Only 5 Crore Doses Estimated To Be Administered By May End
Till 22 May, India’s vaccination pace was at 16.2 lakh doses a day, accruing a total of 3.6 crore doses so far.
It can be estimated that by month-end only about 5 crore doses will have been administered.
This is unwelcome news because if 9 crore doses a month is being produced, then what is limiting India to actually use only 5 crore of those?
Several States Suspending Vax Drives Due To Shortages
Food for thought could be that the private sector, which is assigned 1/4th of the total production as a quota, is not efficiently utilising it due to delays in procurement from the manufacturers.
But it doesn’t explain the mystery completely.
Other states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi apart from Maharashtra have cited shortages behind suspension of the inoculation drive for the 18-44 years age group.
Another evidence for vaccine shortages across the country is the fact that open slots for booking are hard to come by on the CoWin portal.
What The Experts Say
Could the vaccines be simply getting lost for some reason or is its supply being choked?
Experts have reasoned that the govt’s abrupt decision to expand the inoculation drive to adults in the 18-44 years cohort could be the cause of the shaky progress of vaccination in the country.
Now that demand has suddenly ballooned since the announcement was made on May 1 , suppliers are finding it hard to keep up.
Dr Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director, SII, said that the initial target was 300 million people for whom 600 million doses were required.
But before the target could be completed, more people were added who were now waiting for doses.
He blamed the Centre for not following guidelines issued by WHO and for expanding the drive without taking the available stock into consideration.
The Centre has in turn blamed individual states for inadequate preparation and wasting vaccines.
We suppose only time will tell what is truly going on behind the scenes when it comes to the gap between production and usage figures of the vaccines.