The government has projected the possible availability of 200
of Covid vaccines during August-December and said it should be possible to vaccinate India’s entire adult population by year-end.
Here’s a look at the numbers that would need to be delivered for this target to be achieved.
Having started vaccination on Jan 15, India has completed four months or 120 days of vaccination on Friday, May 14. Over these 120 days, it has administered about 18 crore doses, an
a day. To fully vaccinate an adult population estimated at just under 94 crore, according to census projections, it would need to administer a further 170 crore doses in the remaining 231 days of the year. That would require an average of 73.6 lakh doses a day, weekends included, a nearly five-fold increase over the average so far.
Of course, the average for the four months so far is lowered by the initial phase in which daily vaccination levels were much lower. But even if we take the last week, the average has been only somewhat higher at 17 lakh doses a day.
By the government’s own estimates, the supply situation for vaccines will significantly improve only by July-end. In other words, over the next two-and-a-half months, the average daily vaccination is unlikely to be dramatically higher than the current levels. For all of May, for instance, the states are to be allocated a total of 6.12 crore doses (combining their direct procurement from manufacturers and what they get from the Centre) as per the Centre’s affidavit in the
. The private sector should get another 2 crore taking the total for the month to just over 8 crore.
It seems reasonable to assume, therefore, that the average vaccination stays at about 25 lakh doses a day in May. In June, the government expects total supplies to reach 10 crore and in July 15 crore doses.
Assuming these supplies do indeed come through, by July end, or over the next 78 days, India would have administered another 33 crore doses. That would still leave 137 crore doses to be administered between Aug 1 and Dec 31, a period of 153 days. That is an average of over nearly 90 lakh doses a day, seven days a week.
No country so far has managed even a single day of half this level of vaccination and India’s highest, also the highest in the world, has been 41.6 lakh doses on Apr 5. Maintaining an average of 90 lakh would mean more than double that peak every day for five months.
Vaccinating 90 lakh crore people a day is not merely a challenge of supplies. It would mean adding many more vaccination centres than have been used at any point in the vaccination drive and finding the extra personnel needed to man them and to administer the doses. Even if it is possible to add centres, there is still the challenge of finding extra personnel.
Of course, this would be a moot question if the anticipated supplies don’t materialize. Experts agree that the projection of 2 billion doses by year end is quite optimistic. It would mean all existing manufacturers reaching their projected scaled-up capacity by end of July and vaccines currently in trial stage or pending approval coming through in time.