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India's Vaccination Hopes Come Crashing Down with Huge Dip after Peak Inoculation in April

A beneficiary receives Covid-19 vaccine shot at a Covid-19 centre.

A beneficiary receives Covid-19 vaccine shot at a Covid-19 centre.

In view of the deadly second wave and to avoid more such outbreaks, India needed to scale up its vaccination process on the 43 lakh-mark achieved on April 5.

On April 5, India’s Covid-19 vaccination touched its peak. On that day, 43,00,966 people were administered with covid-19 vaccine doses. The day raised hope that the only remedy to the covid-19 disease, the vaccine, will soon be administered to every eligible Indian. From May 1, people aged between 18 to 45 were also made eligible for inoculation in the third phase.

But hopes of April came crashing down on May 9 when India could administer 6,89,652 doses, a sharp drop of 84%. Taking April 5 vaccination figure as base to scale up further efforts to vaccinate 18+ or 94 crore population base, 40 lakh doses a day means 12 crore people a month can be vaccinated partially.

The target base of population to be vaccinated in April was 34.5 crore or the country’s entire 45+ population base. But that April high was not repeated again. In fact, later days of last month saw the pace of vaccination coming down which only nosedived this month with almost all state governments complaining about vaccine shortages and putting on hold inoculation in many districts.

In view of the deadly second wave and to avoid more such outbreaks, India needed to scale up its vaccination process on the 43 lakh-mark achieved on April 5 to cover its much larger population base. India is using two-shot Covid vaccines. To fully vaccinate its 18+ population base or 94 crore people, the country needs 188 crore vaccine doses. Till May 9, the share of India’s population fully vaccinated was just 3.57 crore out of the target base of 94 crore people. So far, 13.44 crore people have been inoculated with the first vaccine dose.

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According to an IIT Kanpur study, third Covid-19 wave is expected to hit India by October and scientists and doctors say the need is to vaccinate as much of the population base as possible.

Let’s do some simple mathematics, taking the share of fully vaccinated population as a benchmark. To vaccinate all 18+ population base fully, we need to administer around 35 crore doses to fully vaccinate 17.5 crore people each month and need to continue it for five months before October to cover the entire targeted population base.

Or to vaccinate 70% of our target population base to give it a chance to see if we can achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 virus, India needs to administer 120 crore vaccine doses to its around 60 crore of the 18+ population base in five months, from May to September or 24 crore vaccine doses a month. That means vaccinating 12 crore individuals every month, starting right from this month.

But going by the pace of vaccination so far, it seems we will not even be able to achieve the pace of vaccination achieved in last month. In nine days of this month, the country could have vaccinated only 1.52 crore people or, on average, 16.87 lakh a day against 30 lakh vaccine doses administered a day in April.

When India opened its vaccine drive to vaccinated all above 45 years of age, the first nine days of the last month including April 5 peak saw a growth of 50.61%. Between April 1 to April 9, 3,29,57,264 people were vaccinated.

Compare that to this month when we have expanded the drive to a much larger population base. Between May 1 and May 9, not even half of the people from the April count were vaccinated. The drive has seen a drastic fall so far with 1,51,86,968 vaccinated in the first nine days or a growth of just 9.80% on the cumulative vaccination count of till April 30. Looking at this, the 24 crore vaccine doses mark looks like a never achievable thing.

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first published:May 10, 2021, 22:16 IST