India's COVID vaccination venture of fully inoculating adult population short of year-end target

As on December 31, over 64 per cent of the adult population in India had received both doses against coronavirus and more than 90 per cent had received at least one dose.

Published: 01st January 2022 09:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st January 2022 09:15 AM   |  A+A-

COVID Vaccine

For representational purposes (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Centre, though leading a COVID-19 vaccination drive that many term 'highly successful', has missed the target of fully inoculating India's adult population by the year end, an aim that many experts believed was "over ambitious". 

As on December 31, over 64 per cent of the adult population in India had received both doses against coronavirus and more than 90 per cent had received at least one dose. As India's adult population is estimated to be around 94 crore, this means a shortfall of over 25 per cent in terms of doses given.

Several functionaries in the Narendra Modi government, including many ministers, had in May-June said that full vaccination in India will be completed by December. Those who have been part of the country's policy making on COVID-19 and also seen the immunisation programme said the target seemed unrealistic.

"For long, there was a major supply crisis which hindered the vaccination programme and when it was sorted to a large extent, the demand started going down," said a member of the national COVID-19 task force, who did not want to be quoted.

Data support what he said. While Serum Institute of India now produces between 12.5 and 15 crore doses a month, Bharat Biotech which produces Covaxin makes nearly 5 to 6 crore doses a month, nearly four times what they were producing before August. 

Followed by Covidshield, Covaxin has been a significant player in India’s vaccination drive that began in January,  while the Russian made Sputnik V played a very small role. 

None of the other COVID-19 vaccines - that government authorities had projected for the country between August and December - have been available for public use. Vaccines by Johnson and Johnson and Zydus Cadila, for instance, had received regulatory approval months back but are still to be launched in India.

Very recently, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation approved for emergency use two more vaccines - Corbevax by Biological E and Novavax by SII - but these will be available only in the coming weeks. 

A look at the vaccination graph in the country shows that while the average daily vaccinations increased rapidly since late August, since mid-October, more second doses have been given than first doses, indicating that the demand for vaccination has been going down.

Daily doses administered have been fluctuating, with the highest number achieved on PM Modi's birthday on September 17, when over 2 crore jabs were administered. The country has not been able to achieve that since.

While the average for September was around 81 lakh doses a day, it fell to 54 lakh in October and 57 lakh in November. Many public health specialists said that if the September momentum had been kept up, India could have been closer to the target.

Rahul Gandhi slams government for target miss

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday slammed the Modi government for not fulfilling its 'promise' to fully vaccinate all eligible beneficiaries against COVID-19 by the end of the year. The government had told Supreme Court in June that it expected the entire eligible population to be vaccinated against COVIDd-19 by end of the year.

"The Centre had promised to vaccinate everyone with two doses of vaccines by end of 2021. Today, the year comes to an end. The country is still away from the vaccine. Another rhetoric bites the dust," Rahul said on Twitter.

As on Friday afternoon, over 144.67 crore doses of vaccines had been administered across the country. More than 84.51 crore beneficiaries have received the first dose.


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