NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to file an affidavit explaining how it will achieve its target of vaccinating “a substantial number of” people by the year-end when the existing production of vaccines suggests otherwise.
A special bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S Ravindra Bhat cited the current rate of vaccine manufacturing to question the Centre’s claim that it would fully vaccinate 100 crore people by the year-end and said statistics indicate it would take 12 months to vaccinate the population between 18-44 years of age.
Doubting the basis of the Centre’s preparedness, the court said the government seemed to have based its projections based on many vaccines, which are still under production, clearing the necessary trials. Such an approach, the court said, “would be misguided”.
There is material to suggest that the augmentation of vaccine production will be inadequate to vaccinate the population between 18-44 years of age, the court said.
The order read: “The total population of this age group is 59 crore, which would require around 122 crore doses. Based on reports, the existing manufacturers (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech India Limited) will be able to produce less than 10 crore doses per month.
Optimistically, around 15-20 crore doses of Sputnik V will be available per month. At this rate, it would take around 12 months for the population in this age group to be inoculated, by which time the virus may have mutated, causing further waves of the pandemic.”
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the court that the government is expected to vaccinate India’s ‘entire population’ by the end of this year. Terming the approach as being “misguided”, the court observed that the efficacy of vaccines that are currently in the stage of clinical trials is uncertain and can’t be guaranteed.