The avowed goal is to vaccinate the country’s entire adult population by December 31 this year, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Saturday. The submission was made in the Supreme Court’s suo motu case on Covid-19 crisis.
The total population of the country aged 18 years and above is approximately 93-94 crore. Administering two doses to these beneficiaries would require an estimated 186 to 188 crore vaccine doses, the Centre explained, going into specifics.
The Centre said it is making the necessary arrangements for the required doses and that 51.6 crore of these jabs will be made available by July 31.
The Centre also plans to procure 135 crores of doses between August and December this year. This will include 50 crore doses of Covishield, 40 crore doses of Covaxin, 30 crore doses of BioE's jab, 10 crore doses of the Sputnik V vaccine and five crore doses of Zydus Cadila's DNA vaccine.
The Centre also assured the Supreme Court that restricted access to the internet will not affect vaccination numbers in rural or remote areas. At least 74.45 per cent of all vaccination centres in the country are in rural areas, it was pointed out. Even remote areas in Ladakh, Tripura and Lakshwadeep are witnessing high rates of vaccination, said the Centre. It went on to add that vaccination coverage is better in tribal areas, compared to the national average.
The Union government also submitted that the vaccine procurement policy was changed after states and smaller private hospitals complained of difficulty in procuring supplies. "It was noted that smaller private hospitals, especially in remote towns and cities were, facing issues in securing and ensuring timely vaccine supply," read the affidavit.
The affidavit went on to say, "On closer scrutiny, it was found that big hospitals/hospital chains account for maximum procurement of vaccines from manufacturers and other smaller hospitals were lagging behind."
States/UTs have been now told to arrive at an "aggregate demand of private hospitals" to ensure equitable distribution of jabs.
The thrust of the government submission was that it has been reviewing the vaccination policy dynamically since May, 2021.