The number of vaccine doses administered in India will reach 51.6 crore by the end of July, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday. India has so far administered over 18 crore jabs to eligible beneficiaries.
Vardhan, during his discussion with the health ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, said vaccine production was being ramped up to cater to the increased demand. “Production of vaccines is being steadily ramped up to cater to increased demand while vaccines that are being produced now continue to be equitably apportioned and swiftly sent to States/Union Territories.
“We will have 51.6 crore vaccine doses by the end of July including the 18 crore doses already administered. Sputnik has been approved. This along with the slated approval of the new vaccine of Zydus Cadila, Serum Institute of India- Novavax vaccine, Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine and the Genova mRNA vaccine will push the availability of COVID vaccines to 216 crore doses in the August-December period, he said. During his interaction with the state health ministers and principal secretaries/additional chief secretaries of the four states in the presence of Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Vardhan highlighted the challenges faced by the states.
He said that Gujarat has displayed a gradual increase in the positivity rate since April and the recovery rate stands at 79 per cent, which is lower than the national average. He noted that nearly 100 per cent ICU beds in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Mehsana and 97 per cent and 96 per cent of oxygen beds in Ahmedabad and Vadodara, respectively, stood occupied indicating saturation. Andhra Pradesh has had an increasing positivity rate since early April and the weekly growth rate was as high as 30.3 per cent, he said, adding that Chittoor, East Godavari, Guntur, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam were flagged as districts of concern in the state.
Uttar Pradesh saw an exponential growth in cases in a six-week period (5,500 to 31,000 cases and two per cent to 14 per cent positivity rate) with Lucknow and Meerut having more than 14,000 active cases with all categories of bed showing more than 90 per cent occupancy. In Madhya Pradesh, 10 districts have more than 20 per cent positivity with over one lakh active cases all over the state. Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and Jabalpur were flagged as districts of concern, the minister said.
During the meeting, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat were cautioned for having a high proportion of deaths in the age group 18-45 years. Vardhan also expressed a strong view that the present plateauing of COVID cases should not be taken as a sign for complacency but as a breathing space to expand, revamp and improve health infrastructure. State health administrators were advised to increase ICU and oxygen-supported beds, undertake oxygen audits, take stock of availability of medicines in the states and strengthen their medical workforce.
Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), presented the epidemiological findings and a granular analysis of the COVID trajectory in the states. He suggested continuing focus on the health infrastructure in small cities as people from nearby towns and villages would rush there in case of surge. He also urged the states to keep a tab on the variants of COVID through the INSACOG consortium. States were advised to ensure complete utilisation of available vaccination slots for 45+ age-group/healthcare workers/frontline workers with awareness campaigns for conveying the importance of completing the second dose of vaccine. It was reiterated that States need to focus on reduction of vaccine wastage as that will be factored in subsequent allocations to that State. States were advised to constitute a 2/3-member team at State level on the lines of the dedicated team at Union Health Ministry to regularly coordinate with manufacturers for timely supplies of vaccine through ‘Other than Govt. of India channel’ and also to coordinate with private hospitals for their procurement.