NEW DELHI: In sharp contrast to the claims of Bharat Biotech on ramping up Covaxin’s production, only about 2.8 crore of its doses had been made available for the ongoing vaccination drive till June 12. This information was part of the 380-page affidavit the Union health and family welfare ministry filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday.
Of the over 32 crore vaccine doses administered so far, the share of Covishield, produced by Serum Institute of India, is more than 90%. The latest revelation on Covaxin’s low availability indicates the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker has been able to supply only about 50 lakh doses per month so far even though it has been claiming that it is constantly scaling up its manufacturing capacity and had reached 2 crore per month capacity in May.
The Centre issued purchase orders for 8 crore Covaxin doses till July this year in three instalments but the company after supplying the initial order of 1 crore doses over 2 months, was yet to supply 18,36,840 doses of the 2-crore order placed for March-May, as on June 12.
Despite the massive delays, the Centre went ahead and paid an advance amount for 5 crore Covaxin doses between May and July, the affidavit shows. Further, on June 4, the government paid the firm 30% of the total costs for 27 crore doses of Covaxin, at the rate of Rs 150 per dose, for supplies between August and December.
The ministry in April had said that Bharat Biotech will produce 2 crore doses a month by May-June and 6-7 crore in July-August, though its capacity that month was 1 crore. A request to Bharat Biotech seeking its response on the slow supplies of Covaxin, has remained unanswered so far.
Meanwhile, the affidavit, scaled down the projected August-December availability of vaccines to 1.35 billion doses from 2.16 billion. It includes 50 crore doses of Covishield and 30 crore doses of Biological E’s candidate, which is yet to complete phase 3 trial.
Covishield dose gap cut for students going abroad
The Centre also told the SC that it has relaxed the 12-16 weeks time interval for the second dose of Covishield for athletes bound for Olympics, students undertaking foreign travel for education and persons working abroad