Data Focus

What is the extent of Covid-19 vaccine shortage?

Annapurani. V Chennai | Updated on April 15, 2021

At current capacities, the demand-supply gap is around 5 crore doses a month

The vaccination drive against coronavirus is in full swing in India for adults aged 45 and above, healthcare workers and frontline workers.

But India lags other countries with large Covid-19 case-loads in vaccination coverage and there is a need to accelerate the pace of vaccination substantially. There are also reports of shortage of vaccine availability in many centres.

We decided to do the math for the demand and supply of Covid-19 vaccines in India. Our finding is that if we want to vaccinate all the population above 45 years by end of July, we will have to administer 13.18 crore doses every month up to July end. But given the current capacities, there is likely to be a shortfall of around 5 crore doses by June, unless capacities are expanded and new vaccines made available.

Numbers don’t match

Around 10.02 crore beneficiaries have been administered the first dose and 1.43 crore have been given the second, as on April 15, 7:00 am, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The total doses given amount to 11.45 crore.

However, in order to fully vaccinate the remaining population aged 45 and above, frontline workers and healthcare workers, an estimated 45.9 crore doses of vaccine will be required. To meet this target by July 31, 42.5 lakh doses will be needed on a daily basis and an estimated 13.2 crore doses will be required a month.

But the current capacities of Serum Institute and Baharat Biotech fall well short of 13.2 crore a month. SII manufactured approximately seven crore doses in March, and Bharat Biotech, 1.2 crore doses., Observer Research Foundation data showed.

At this production capacity and utilising the remaining stock of 10 crore doses available from 31.6 crore already manufactured, the vaccine supply would still fall short by June, if the target of 13 crore doses a month is to be met.

Using up the buffer

From December 2020 till end March 2021, Serum Institute of India (SII) has produced an estimated 27 crore doses of the Covid vaccine and Bharat Biotech, 4.6 crore doses (January 2021- March 2021), approximately, according to data from Observer Research Foundation.

Of this, approximately 6.5 crore shots were exported to 84 countries. And per Health Ministry data, over 13 crore doses have been given to the States and Union Territories, about two crore doses are in the supply pipeline, as on April 13. This means that the Centre may have held stock of roughly 10 crore by the end of March 2021.

This is unlikely to last, especially if vaccination is scaled up. However, if manufacturing facilities of SII, Bharat Biotech are expanded, foreign-made vaccines and Russia’s Sputnik V are available before the end of this quarter, then the gap of nearly five crore doses will become fairly easier to bridge.


Published on April 15, 2021

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