Singapore: India's role in the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout will be significant both as a recipient of the medicine as well as a producer, according to Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research.
The country has one of the largest vaccine manufacturing capacities in the world (including the largest vaccine producer - Serum Institute India) and has secured authorisation to mass-produce the AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Gamaleya Research Institute vaccines.
With a population of 1.3 billion (and 94 million over 65-year-olds), the domestic vaccination drive will be the largest in the world, said Fitch.
The country has a good track record of such drives with masses of the population regularly gaining inoculation for various diseases such as polio and cholera. India's vaccine rollout will begin in Q1 2021 with frontline healthcare workers and individuals over the age of 50 years gaining priority.
The government aims to vaccinate some 250 million people over six-to-eight months, which Fitch said is a lofty goal.
"However, if India can quickly ramp up vaccinations to roughly the same level as the 1 million Covid-19 tests it conducts each day, then we expect coverage across priority groups can be achieved by June 2021." Risks to this outlook include the sheer scale of the project and relatively weak institutions and healthcare infrastructure, these challenges could result in a slower rollout than expected, it added.
Fitch said access to Covid-19 vaccines is set to vary significantly across Asia depending on the advance purchase agreements a given country has reached with vaccine developers.
Developed markets have generally purchased access to vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca while smaller countries with strong healthcare systems will have an advantage in rolling out vaccines.
Vaccine access for emerging markets is likely to be more varied with a larger role for supply from China and Russia and their state-developed vaccine candidates. "We note that some markets have already begun mass vaccinations with limited phase three trial data available," it said.
With diverse healthcare systems and populations, the practical administration of vaccines is expected to vary considerably. "If countries struggle to ramp up the number of daily vaccinations then rollout could again drag into 2022."