The Covid-19 vaccination programme is in full swing with India ranking third globally, based on the cumulative number of doses administered by each country. But India’s pace may not be fast enough to reach the government’s target of vaccinating 20-25 crore people by July.
According to Health Ministry data, the number of people inoculated with the first dose of a Covid vaccine stood at 2.1 crore as on March 11. This means that 20.39 crore of the target population is yet to get the first dose, based on the median target population.
On an average, 7,20,506 doses are being administered daily, based on the vaccination numbers from February 15 to March 9. However, to achieve the target of vaccinating 20-25 crore people by July 31, this rate needs to be scaled up at least four times — that is , 29,67,238 shots daily.
“At the current rate of vaccination, it wouldn’t be possible to achieve the target of inoculating 20-25 crore people by July,” said Himanshu Sikka, Lead – Health, Nutrition and WASH, IPE Global, adding that creating more awareness in non-metro areas (where the participation is low), relaxing age-group limitations, or even opening it for everybody, and educating the public that there are very few adverse reactions to the vaccination will encourage more people to step forward to take the jab and a shot at the target.
Among the top 10 most populous States, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal have vaccinated at a higher rate — 27, 26 and 18 persons per 1,000 population, respectively. On the other hand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are laggards with their numbers at 7, 8 and 12 persons per thousand, respectively.
To successfully vaccinate the target population by July 31, UP needs to administer 4,99,390 doses daily from its current average of 46,823; Bihar must do 2,65,392 (27,303)and Madhya Pradesh 1,77,980 (27,197).
Ramping up facilities
LS Shashidhara, Dean of Research and Professor of Biology, Ashoka University, says that if vaccine production is ramped up and the entire pipeline of distribution and administration is well worked out, then the target is not unreachable. He added that more centres and hospitals have to be made available for vaccination with ample doses of vaccines.
“But as far as stopping the pandemic is concerned, it is very important to vaccinate the working population because they are the carriers of the infection,” Shashidhara noted.