The Serum Institute of India has urged the Centre to use the available 10 crore doses of Covishield offered free of cost by GAVI under COVAX facility in view of rising COVID-19 cases in the country, an official source said.
The Pune-based firm has written to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF) that if these 10 crore free doses of Covishield are not taken by the Indian government timely, it will lead to wastage of the life saving vaccines amid the pandemic outbreak.
In a letter to the ministry, Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII, is learnt to have stated that the firm has already supplied 14 crore doses of Covishield to the Government of India (GoI) through UNICEF under “COVAX” facility of GAVI free of cost.
Apart from these 14 crore doses, GAVI has also offered 10 crore doses of Covishield free of cost to Gol under COVAX facility, the source said.
“As Covid cases are rising again in our country, using this immediately available 10 crore free of cost Covishield vaccine doses by GAVI for our citizens at the earliest would be beneficial in controlling the upsurge of COVID-19. This will play a crucial role in taking forward the world’s largest vaccination drive under visionary leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji towards its successful completion,” Mr. Singh is learnt to have stated.
The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has so far exceeded 187.67 crore.
India had on April 10 began administering precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all aged above 18 years at private vaccination centres. All those above the age of 18 who have completed nine months after the administration of the second dose are eligible for the precaution dose.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of frontline workers started from February 2 last year.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 last year for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions. India launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1 last year. The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 years of age to be inoculated against the viral disease from May 1 last year.
The next phase of vaccination commenced from January 3 for adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years.
India began administering precaution doses of vaccines to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10. The country began inoculating children aged 12-14 years from March 16 and also removed the comorbidity clause, making all people aged above 60 eligible for the precaution dose of Covid vaccine.