How is the vaccine distribution going in and out of India?

How is the vaccine distribution going in and out of India?
25 Jan, 2022

India has also been conducting door-to-door campaigns for Covid-19 vaccination besides conducting the drives in vaccination centers. Despite that, India did miss its target of administering its entire adult population of 940 million two vaccinations by 2021 end. This target was announced way back in the month of May 2021 by Prakash Javadekar, the then minister in the federal government. He said, “Vaccination in India will be completed by December 2021.”

As of 30 December 2021 statistics, India had completed administering 64% adult population with both the doses and around 90% population with the first dose. According to experts, achieving the milestone of full vaccination coverage would take a long time. BBC has quoted Dr Chandrakant Lahariya’s statement, an epidemiologist and health systems specialist that the target set by the Indian government was unrealistic because achieving 100% vaccine coverage at any point in time would not be possible because there would always be some people who would be unwilling to get vaccinated for various reasons. Referring to India’s vaccine dashboard – CoWin, weekly vaccinations have slowed since December first week. More second doses have been administered since mid-October than first doses. The daily vaccination numbers have also been fluctuating since 17th September when the highest number of vaccination was achieved. In fact, 20 million jabs were administered on that day. Ever since, the country hasn’t been able to achieve the same number.

Now the question is, is it mere unwillingness of citizens to get vaccinated or are there more reasons why India couldn’t maintain its vaccination momentum? During the initial stage of vaccine distribution in India, India faced challenges such as supply constraints due to raw materials shortages and logistical issues. By the second half of the year, these issues were addressed and resolved. Now the challenge is demand rather than the supply. People are hesitant to take the vaccine due to which the demand has eventually fallen.

Although India has announced a cut in the production of vaccines due to a slash in demand, the country has enough for exports. Delving into the international shipping from India, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has resumed exporting vaccines in November to Covax which is the global vaccine-sharing program. Earlier in April 2021, exports were halted by India due to which Covax which was primarily reliant on supplies from SII to support its vaccination programs in low and middle-income countries had to rely on other vaccine supplies. Also, the exports have been really slow. Speaking about the figures, out of 700 million vaccines that have been delivered to 144 countries under the Covax program as of 14th December 2021, around 40 million doses were provided by SII. According to Covax, around 28 million of those doses were supplied between January and April 2021. If India tackles the problem of slow exports, we could perhaps notice a surge in the number of doses contributed by SII to Covax in the coming days.

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