India Sustains Improved Vaccination Rates In July With 12.9 Crore Doses Given
India stepped up vaccinations against Covid-19 further in July, marking the best month for its inoculation programme so far. Yet, monumental efforts are still required with about half of the adult population yet to receive even a single dose.
The country administered 12.9 crore doses in July, compared with 11.27 crore in June, according to data from the government's CoWin dashboard. The daily average vaccinations in July rose to 41.5 lakh from 37.56 lakh in the month before.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has not set an explicit timeline to fully vaccinate everyone over 18 years of age, it has said that enough doses will be made available by December 2021 to cover all adult population.
"The projected population of 18+ year persons in the country is 94 crore," said Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pravin Pawar in a written Parliament reply. "It's expected that eligible beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021."
Still, to actually administer that many doses before the end of the year, the current vaccination pace will have to be more than doubled.
India's improved vaccination numbers have come after the federal government reversed its earlier policy that had asked states to independently buy vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group. The new policy, that came into effect on June 21, triggered a surged in daily rate to a record 90 lakh doses.
However, as some media reports pointed out, that increase may have been due to an orchestrated effort by some BJP-governed states.
That record pace, expectedly, couldn't be maintained. But the vaccination rates remain significantly higher than the dismal numbers seen in May.
Some of India's most populous states saw their vaccination numbers rise in July.
Uttar Pradesh saw the biggest uptick with its daily average vaccination numbers at over 5.3 lakh. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu also saw slight improvement. On the other hand, Gujarat and Rajasthan saw marginal decline.
India's vaccination drive still has a lot of catching up to do. It continues to lag other major economies for per capita vaccine rates and fully vaccinated population
In absolute numbers, India has administered the second-highest number of doses in the world behind China. But that's just part of the story. It has fully vaccinated just over 7.2% of its population with two doses.
Research has shown that two doses of the vaccine greatly reduce the chances of severe disease, hospitalisation and deaths due to Covid-19. Recent evidence from the U.K. has only validated that. And information about whether vaccines offer enough protection against newer coronavirus variants like Delta Plus and Lambda is fairly limited right now.
In a densely populated country like India, that becomes particularly relevant. Even now, the country is reporting around 40,000 new cases a day. The government is bracing for an inevitable third wave of the pandemic, having told states to stay vigilant.
That said, supply of vaccines is likely to improve in August. Which means there could be potential to ramp up vaccination rates.
The government expects 135 crore doses to become available between August and December 2021—more than double of what it was able to procure from January to July.
If that supply materialises, it will be up to states to hasten administration.