COVID-19: India promises 120 million vaccine doses for June

This marks a significant jump from the 79 million doses available in May as government tries to plug the vaccine shortage.

Several Indian states have reported an acute shortage of vaccines, forcing many regions to prioritise those aged above 45 [File: Anupam Nath/AP]

India will have nearly 120 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available for domestic use in the month of June, the government said on Sunday, in a boost to its immunisation campaign that has been marred by shortages of jabs.

This marks a significant jump from the 79.4 million doses that were available in May amid the devastating second wave that has killed more than 150,000 people in the past eight weeks.

India has administered about 212 million doses, the most after China and the United States, but has given the necessary two doses to only about three percent of its 1.35 billion people.

The world’s second-most populous nation on Sunday reported its lowest daily rise in new coronavirus infections in 46 days at 165,553 cases during the previous 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,460.

The South Asian nation’s tally of infections now stands at 27.9 million, while the death toll has reached 325,972, health ministry data showed on Sunday.

Earlier this month, a top government adviser said more than two billion doses of coronavirus vaccines will likely be available in India between August to December this year, including those from the two domestic manufacturers.

Several Indian states have reported an acute shortage of vaccines, forcing many regions, including the capital New Delhi, to again prioritise those aged above 45.

For the month of June, 60.9 million doses will be made available by the central government to states for vaccination of healthcare and front-line workers and those above the age of 45 years, while 58.6 million doses will be available for direct purchase by states and private hospitals, the release said.

The country has recently begun to roll out Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, alongside the AstraZeneca vaccine produced locally at the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin made by local firm Bharat Biotech.

The country has been reeling from vaccine shortage despite being the biggest producer of vaccines in the world.

The opposition has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bungling its COVID-19 response, with a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen, vaccines and medicines grabbing international headlines.

Source: Reuters