Covid India vaccine: production of Covishield at 6 crore, production of Covaxin at 2 crore doses / month; yet only 5 crore will be donated by the end of May | India News
The government in an affidavit to the Supreme Court earlier this month said the Serum Institute of India (SII) was producing 6.5 crore of Covishield per month and that Bharat Biotech was producing 2 crore of Covaxin per month, which was to be increased to 5.5. crore doses per month in July. He also said that Sputnik is expected to increase production from 30 lakh per month to 1.2 crore per month by July.
SII itself has repeatedly stated that its production is 60 to 70 million doses per month, or 6 to 7 crore. Bharat Biotech CMD Krishna Ella has also publicly stated that the company is expected to produce 20 million doses in April and will produce 30 million in May.
Consider the lower number in each case. That would mean 8.5 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin just in May. For a 31-day month, this equates to an average of 27.4 lakh doses per day. This assumes that Bharat Biotech could not reach the 3 crore forecast this month and only produced 2 crore as in April.
Now look at the vaccination figures from the CoWin portal. They show that in the first 22 days of May India administered just under 3.6 crore of doses at an average of 16.2 lakh doses per day. At the average rate so far, the month will end with about 5 base doses administered. However, the numbers are steadily declining and the average for the past seven days (May 16-22) is below 13 lakh.
Even if the month ends with 5 crore of doses delivered, the question remains: what explains only 5 crore when at least 8.5 crore is produced? One possible explanation could be that the quota for the private sector – a quarter of total production – is underutilized due to various factors, including delays in agreements with manufacturers. But that could at best explain part of the gap.
States have repeatedly complained of supply shortages. On Sunday, for example, Karnataka halted vaccination for 18-44 year olds due to shortages. Delhi did the same on Saturday and Maharashtra also took a similar step on May 12. Again on Saturday, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh wrote to the prime minister to call for a halt to supplies to private hospitals. The reasons he gave were that supplies were limited and that these hospitals were charging exorbitant amounts for vaccines.
The shortages are also evident anecdotally and from the fact that vaccination slots are hard to find on the CoWin portal or app. This is true from state to state and district to district, although the degree of difficulty may vary.
Which leaves us with the question – what happens to the vaccines produced? Where in the pipeline between the producer and the people who are trying to get the vaccine? Are they lost or blocked?
Watch Covid-19: Mystery of vaccination figures in India, big gap in declarations and reality