The government is placing its largest order yet of Covid vaccines at 66 crore doses worth Rs 14,505 crore to procure Covishield and Covaxin shots that will help it to substantially meet the vaccine availability projections it had made in the Supreme Court.
The order is in line with the Centre’s estimate of 135 crore doses being available between August and December, as stated in its affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on June 26. Apart from the order for 66 crore doses, the government has made an advance payment to reserve 30 crore doses of Hyderabad based Biological-E’s Corbevax vaccine.
A total of 96 crore doses are expected to be available on account of government procurement during August-December. While the 96 crore doses comprises Centre’s share of 75% of the total manufactured doses, the private sector will also have another 22 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin available during the period.
The order and other anticipated supplies, said officials, will help India remain on track to ensure vaccination for the 18+plus population by the year-end.
The total production of Covishield and Covaxin in August-December is placed at 88 crore doses. Despite a shortfall of around 3.5 crore doses in July, Covaxin production is put at 38 crore in this period, slightly less than the 40 crore mentioned in the SC affidavit. The glitches in its production are understood to have been sorted out.
Apart from Covishield, Covaxin and Corbevax, the government’s estimate of 135 crore doses also included Sputnik V and Zydus Cadila’s vaccine. While Sputnik V locally manufactured supplies are yet to start, Cadila’s approval is pending. Ten crore Sputnik and five crore Cadila are estimated to be available this year, according to the Centre's affidavit.
“Government has already made an advance payment 96 doses and another 22 crore doses will be available for the private sector, thus securing a large bulk of the expected supply well in advance,” said an official source.