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How India's Covid-19 vaccination drive is lagging, 6 months on

By Abhishek Waghmare
July 27, 2021 11:14 IST
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India has placed orders for 786 million doses till date -- less than the probable need of 950 million doses, reports Abhishek Waghmare.

IMAGE: A beneficiary receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Lungla, Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: ANI Photo

India completed six months of Covid-19 vaccination recently. The campaign began on January 16, 2021. Till July 15, about 390 million doses were administered in the country with a population of 1,350 million. Even if we consider the working age and senior population, India would need to administer 950 million doses to fully vaccinate 50 per cent of them.

The first step in the process is to procure vaccines. Though all the details about orders are not available publicly, an RTI application by a citizen, Lokesh Batra, has put forth the exact dates when the central government placed vaccine orders.


Chart 1 shows that most of the orders were placed in May and June, after the havoc of the second wave. Also, orders for 786 million doses have been placed to date -- less than the probable need (as specified above) of 950 million.

Due to this delay, vaccination, which had gathered pace in March-April, dwindled in the April-June period. Recent orders have ensured supply with a lag and the June 16-July 15 period saw administration of nearly 133 million doses -- the highest since the beginning of the programme (chart 2).

But daily inoculation has taken a hit in recent weeks, as chart 3 reveals.

There have been many instances where people have struggled to find a slot for the second dose. In the population aged between 18 and 44, less than 4 per cent are fully vaccinated (chart 4).

One reason for this could be inefficient supply chain management. The number of vaccination sites have reduced to half from the peak. Just above 30,000 sites were active in the recent week, compared to more than 70,000 in April (chart 5).

Further, slow vaccination is a problem not just in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar but also in Tamil Nadu. Delhi and Kerala are two states that are closing in on vaccinating 50 per cent of the population with at least one dose, chart 6 shows. Smaller states have performed well.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/

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Abhishek Waghmare in Mumbai
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