Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have also stopped producing the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines respectively.
The steady spike in Covid-19 cases in India has prompted more people to visit vaccination centres to take precautionary doses. However, the number of functional vaccination centres can be counted on the fingers of one hand, even in leading cities.
Sample this: Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra that is India’s worst-hit state currently, has seven working vaccination centres, of which only one is a free or government site (JJ Hospital), shows data from the CoWIN portal. Delhi, on the other hand, has 11 centres, Bengaluru has none, Kolkata-Howrah has four, Chennai one, and Hyderabad seven.
More than 75 percent of the operational sites are private centres. The overall number of centres was 296 as of Thursday, 230 of which were private, CoWIN showed.
Do these functional sites have enough vaccine doses?
The Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have stopped producing the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines respectively.
A senior government official said that vaccines were mostly being administered in private sites, and one can avail of a Corbevax (Biological E’s vaccine) or the iNCOVACC (Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine) from these sites.
“The mix-and-match dosing with these two vaccines is already approved by the NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation). We have also covered a substantial population of 12-18-year-olds through government sites with two doses of Corbevax. One can now avail a third shot of Corbevax or iNCOVACC from private centres,” the official added, when asked about availability.
Meanwhile, SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, has six million doses of Covovax (the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine that it has supplied to the US), sources indicated. “We have around 6 million doses of Covovax ready to dispatch. We are waiting for the approval for Covovax to be put as a booster dose. After the approval, we will offer it to private hospitals,” a source said.
Private hospitals are also being cautious after burning their fingers with wasted doses. Bishnu Panigrahi, group head, medical strategy and operations, Fortis Healthcare, told Business Standard that several doses in their inventory had expired due to low demand.
“We have not ordered fresh stocks recently, but it is a matter of demand and supply. We are monitoring demand, and if we see demand we can place orders,” he said.
Aashish Chaudhry, MD of Aakash Healthcare -- one of the vaccination sites in Delhi -- said, “We have built up minimal stock, and are not facing any issues in procuring vaccines.”
The number of weekly vaccinations has seen an increase as daily Covid-19 cases rose sharply recently, in the wake of a new Omicron sub-variant, XBB.1.16. There were 45,029 vaccinations for the seven days ending March 15, shows CoWin data. This has risen 38 per cent to 62,339 as of March 31.
Around 1,884 vaccinations were administered on Thursday, on a day India reported 5,335 new cases. The daily positivity rate now is 3.32 per cent.
Number of vaccination centres as of Thursday is 296 (230 private), showed CoWIN
Among cities, Mumbai has 7 vaccination centres; Delhi 11, Bengaluru has none, Kolkata-Howrah has 4, Chennai has 1, and Hyderabad 7
Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have stopped producing Covishield and Covaxin vaccines
Doses available: Corbevax (Biological E) or iNCOVACC (Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine)
1,884 vaccinations administered on Thursday
India reported 5,335 new cases; daily positivity rate of 3.32%