NEW DELHI, Aug 13 (Reuters) – India expects to get about 266 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in August as a simpler licensing process has helped the government secure far more than earlier expected, the president of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party said on Friday.
Late last month, a senior government official told reporters that the government could only count on getting about 150 million doses in August.
Since then, India’s drug regulator has approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – though the company has not yet committed to a delivery schedule – and commercial production of Russia’s Sputnik V in India could start too.
Indian drugmaker Cadila Healthcare’s ZyCoV-D could also be approved soon, the health minister said this month.
Writing in a column for the Times of India daily, Jagat Prakash Nadda, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, credited Modi for making it easier for vaccine makers to get approval.
“Among the many significant decisions taken by the PM is simplifying compulsory licensing policy to speed up vaccine production,” Nadda wrote.
“It ensured clearance for manufacturing of Russia’s Sputnik V in the country and just a few days back Johnson & Johnson vaccine has also been given clearance. In the coming days more vaccines will be available in India.”
Nadda, who was the health minister in Modi’s first term, said India’s vaccine supply will reach 266.5 million doses in August, 261.5 million in September, 282.5 million in October, 282.5 million in November and 285 million doses in December.
The health ministry, whose end-July target of supplying 516 million doses fell short, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Nadda’s projections.
India wants to vaccinate its entire adult population of 944 million by the end of this year. It has so far administered 528.6 million doses https://dashboard.cowin.gov.in, giving at least one dose to about 44% of its adults, while 12% have had the required two doses.
India is the world’s biggest vaccine maker, thanks to the Serum Institute of India. The company stopped all exports of COVID-19 shots in April as the government asked it to divert supplies to the domestic inoculation drive as infections surged.
India has reported 32.11 million COVID-19 infections, the most after the United States, with about 430,000 deaths, though experts say these are gross underestimates.
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