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Bharat Biotech yet to start supply of May order of Covaxin: Center


Health Ministry provides break-up of expected vaccine delivery schedule to Supreme Court

Bharat Biotech is yet to begin supply for a batch of vaccines, an order for which was placed by the Health Ministry in May, according to an affidavit filed by the Ministry in the Supreme Court on Saturday.

The Health Ministry told the apex court that it expected to receive at least 51 crore doses from January-July. Thirty two crore of these have already been administered as of Sunday evening.

In a break-up of the expected vaccine delivery schedule by the government, the Center had ordered 3 crore doses of Covaxin since January that was to have been delivered until the end of May.

It placed another order of 5 crore doses on May 5 that is expected to be delivered by the end of July. However, in its remarks in the affidavit on the “supply status” of the vaccine, the Center notes that of this lot, “Covaxin was yet to start supply”.

This, however, was based on information updated as of June 21 and it is possible that Bharat Biotech may have supplied some additional doses in the last week. According to data on the CoWIN website, as of Sunday, 3.8 crore doses of Covaxin have been administered so far.

As The Hindu reported on May 28, Bharat Biotech has stated that it took four months for a batch of Covaxin to be manufactured and ready for supply. Thus, production of batches of Covaxin that were initiated during March this year would be ready for supply only in June, the company had said in a statement. At that point, about 2-2.5 crore doses of Covaxin had reportedly been supplied. That implies only the batches produced in April would be ready for supply by July.

The government had earlier projected that Bharat Biotech is to scale up production to 6-7 crore doses a month from July-August and 10 crore doses a month from September. This works out to at least 52 crore doses from July-December, of which 40 crore is marked out from September to December.

VK Paul, Chairman, National Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration, had said that 216 crore doses of vaccines would be available August-December, which would have been more than adequate to inoculate 94 crore of India’s adults. However in its Saturday affidavit, the Health Ministry has significantly cut down on its projection, and estimated that 135 crores vaccine would be available August-December, and 51 crore by July, or just about enough to meet the 186-188 crore doses needed to inoculate all adults with two doses. The affidavit underlines that other vaccines, in development, too could be made available.

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