The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday that India will have enough Covid-19 vaccines by July or early August to inoculate one crore people every day. ICMR chief Balram Bhargava, while speaking at a health ministry press briefing, also said that there is no shortage of vaccine.
“By mid-July or August, we will have enough doses to vaccinate 1 crore people per day. We are confident of vaccinating the whole population by December,” said Bhargava.
He also said that gradual lifting of lockdown-like curbs will not lead to a massive surge in Covid-19 cases. “However, we have to ensure that vaccination is prioritised. The vaccination rate must be up to 70%. Also, Covid-appropriate behaviour should be followed,” said Bhargava.
The ICMR chief’s comments come in the wake of demands made by several health experts that vaccination needs to be scaled up in India. Several states too have complained about vaccine shortage, and a few of them even floated global tenders to directly get the supply.
The health ministry had said on Sunday that nearly 120 million vaccine doses will be available for the ongoing nationwide Covid vaccination programme in June. “Vaccination is an integral pillar of the comprehensive strategy of the government of India for containment and management of the pandemic, along with test, track, treat and Covid-appropriate behaviour,” the health ministry said in a statement.
The vaccination drive began in January this year with two vaccines – AstraZeneca’s Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The Russian-made Sputnik V is the third vaccine to get approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use and is being used in a few private hospitals.
Both SII and Bharat Biotech said on Sunday that they are looking at ramping up their production capacity to 110-120 million doses from the existing 75-80 million.