The Centre told the Supreme Court on Saturday that a coronavirus vaccine developed by Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila will soon be available for children aged 12-18 years, reported NDTV.
In an affidavit to the top court, the central government also said 186.6 crore vaccine shots are needed to inoculate residents aged above 18 years. It said that the 135 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be available by December 2021, reported India Today.
However, this projection is quite less than the Centre’s earlier estimation of how many doses would be available. In May, the health ministry had said that India would have 216 crore doses of Covid-19 shots between August and December to vaccinate all adults. The difference in projection stands at 81 crore.
The Centre also told the court that efforts were underway to completely vaccinate all adults by December 31. “Out of this requirement, 51.6 crore doses will be made available for administration by July 31, 2021 leaving a requirement of approximately 135 crore vaccine doses for complete vaccination to the eligible population,” the affidavit said.
Out of the 135 crore, 50 crore vaccines will be from Covishield and 40 crore from Covaxin. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is estimated at 10 crores. Biological E Sub will also provide 30 crore doses and Zydus Cadila 5 crore.
Both Zydus Cadila and Biological E Sub vaccines are yet to be approved for emergency use. However, the government submitted that they will be given approval in the near future, reported Bar and Bench.
The affidavit was filed in a suo motu case initiated by the Supreme Court on the handling of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In the affidavit, the government said that its vaccination policy was dynamic, saying that Covid vaccines were free now free for all aged above 18 years under the new policy that came into effect on June 21. However, shots administered by private hospitals will still be charged.
The government further said that it has allowed walk-in vaccinations for all ages and claimed there is no digital divide constraining access to vaccine for residents to get inoculated. “Vaccination for Covid-19 is being implemented on the lines of universal immunisation programme,” the affidavit said.
It said there was a new scheme in place to make private vaccination centres accessible to the economically weaker sections of society. Under this scheme, the affidavit said that non-governmental organisations can buy tokens for vaccines and distribute them to those who need them.
The Centre also said it has asked states to investigate unauthorised vaccination camps where fake vaccines are being given and to take strict action against those responsible.
On June 2, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre for its vaccination policy. It had said that the Centre’s policy to provide free vaccination for priority groups and replacing it with a paid process for those in the 18-45 age group was “prima facie arbitrary and irrational”. This came before the government announced its plan for free vaccines for all.
The Supreme Court had flagged several other concerns. It had said that the vaccine policy would effectively result in expecting half of those in the 18-45 age group to pay for their vaccines at private hospitals.
The order also cited various reports on access to Internet in India and flagged a “digital divide” between the rural and urban areas. The court said that due to this and a “vaccination policy exclusively relying on a digital portal”, the target of universal immunisation would be difficult to meet.
The court had also asked the Centre to furnish complete data on the government’s purchase history of all Covid-19 vaccines till date.
Meanwhile, India recorded 48,698 new coronavirus cases and 1,183 deaths on Saturday morning. With this, the country’s overall count of infections since the pandemic broke out in 2020 rose to 3,01,83,143. The toll increased to 3,94,493.