NEW DELHI: A day after India achieved over 86 lakh Covid-19 vaccinations, as the Centre took over the task of supplying free vaccines for adults in all government hospitals, vaccination numbers fell by nearly 40%. A total of 52.83 lakh doses were administered on Tuesday, in comparison to 86.16 lakh doses given on Monday, as all adults became eligible to receive the shots free of cost in government hospitals across the country.
Nearly 64% of the doses administered on Monday were in rural areas and nearly 65,000 of total 67,000 vaccination centres were government facilities, while women comprised about 46% of total recipients.
Senior authorities conceded that while Monday’s show was a sign of India’s ability to vaccinate at scale, it will remain a challenge to sustain the momentum per day even during the remaining days this month. Officials said that of about 12 crore vaccine doses available for June, 9.5 crore doses have already been exhausted, which leaves only about 2.5 crore doses for eight days.
“Monday was actually an orchestrated capacity demonstration to show that we are capable of carrying out this high number of vaccinations, but current dose supplies might constrain efforts to sustain the pace,” a top official in the Union health ministry said. From Monday, the Union government is responsible for procuring and supplying 75% of total vaccines available in the country which will be used for inoculating adults in government hospitals, while 25% will be available for procurement by private hospitals.
VK Paul, who heads the national Covid task force and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, underscored that Day 1 figures demonstrate India’s ability to carry out vaccination on large scale for days and weeks together.
“This was possible because of coordination between Central and state governments and taking up the task in mission mode,” said Paul. “We need to do our daily work, maintain social life, open schools, businesses. We will be able to do this only when we are able to vaccinate at a fast pace”. NK Arora, chairperson of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, said the country could achieve 1.25 crore vaccinations in a day.
Stock of doses for June not encouraging
Health officials said that of about 12 crore vaccine doses available for the month of June, 9.5 crore doses have already been exhausted, which leaves only about 2.5 crore doses for the remaining eight days. So sustaining the momentum generated by massive numbers on June 21 will not be an easy task.