India

Landmark 1 Billionth Vaccine Dose To Be Administered Next Week: Sources

Landmark 1 Billionth Vaccine Dose To Be Administered Next Week: Sources

India's Covid vaccination drive began in January last year (File)

New Delhi:

India will cross the landmark of one billion, or 100 crore, COVID-19 vaccine doses next week, either on Monday or Tuesday, top Health Ministry sources have said, calling this a "great achievement".

Till this evening around 96.7 crore doses have been administered.

According to the CoWIN dashboard, around 30.25 lakh doses have been administered so far today (Wednesday), with more than 50 per cent of those (around 16.8 lakh) being the second dose.

So far around 73 per cent India's 18+ population had received at least one dose, sources added.

Around 30 per cent have been given both doses.

Last month the centre - to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 71st birthday - administered over 2.5 crore doses in a day; that was the fourth time over one crore doses were given in a day.

Vaccine availability - which earlier this year was a contentious issue that saw states clash with the centre over inadequate supplies - has largely stabilised as new manufacturing facilities come online.

The Serum Institute has told the centre it will provide 22 crore doses (of Covishield) this month.

Sources said Bharat Biotech is expected to provide six crore Covaxin doses, and around 60 lakh doses of Zydus Cadila's three-dose DNA vaccine - ZyCoV-D - are also expected.

On the subject of emergency use approval for Covaxin from the World Health Organization - pending since additional data was submitted late last month - sources said a decision is expected shortly.

The lack of WHO approval means Covaxin is not recognised by some countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which makes international travel difficult for those who have been given that vaccine; they are required to pay and take Covid tests or quarantine on arrival.

Last week WHO has said a "final decision" would be taken soon.

Sources pointed out said Covaxin has been cleared by 11 other nations - Iran, Guyana, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Paraguay, Nepal, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Philippines, and Botswana.

Sources also said Covaxin is recognised (for travel purposes) by Hungary, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Belarus, Lebanon, and Serbia, and that more countries were being added to this list on a daily basis.

Sources further said a second committee of experts would approach the national drug regulator, the DCGI, for emergency approval of a Covid vaccine for children. The sources said any delay in approving vaccines for kids was because the government wanted to be sure it is safe and effective.

This comes a day after Bharat Biotech's Covaxin received SEC clearance for use on children between the ages of two and 18. Final clearance from the DCGI is expected soon, sources said.

Finally, with the festive season around the corner in many parts of the country, experts have raised fears of a spike in cases similar to that seen this time last year.

Health ministry sources said today that SOPs had already been issued - including re-emphasis on standard rules like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.