Fulfilling its commitment, Serum Institute of India has produced over 10 crore doses of its COVID-19 vaccine Covishield in June so far as India ramps up the pace of its vaccination drive in the face of a possible third wave of the viral infection. India's COVID-19 inoculation drive has picked up pace under the new phase of universalisation of COVID-19 vaccination that commenced on June 21 with around 69 lakh vaccine doses being administered on an average daily in the last six days.
The immunisation data published at 7 am on Sunday showed that India administered 64. 25 lakh vaccine doses in a day, taking the cumulative number of jabs given so far under the nationwide inoculation drive to 32. 17 crore. According to information provided to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, it has sent 45 batches of Covishield, amounting to 10. 80 crore doses, to the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli for release in June so far.
The firm's Director at Government and Regulatory Affairs, Prakash Kumar Singh, had in May communicated to Union Home Minister Amit Shah that Covishield production would be ramped up to 10 crore doses in June. "We are committed to enhancing the production capacity of our Covishield vaccine and have been working round-the-clock in spite of various challenges being faced by us because of COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are pleased to inform that in the month of June we will be able to manufacture and supply nine to 10 crore doses of our Covishield vaccine to our country as compared to our present production capacity of 6. 5 crore doses in May," Singh had said in a communication to Shah.
The nationwide vaccination drive has been ramped up through availability of more vaccines, advance visibility of vaccine availability to states and Union Territories enabling them to plan better, streamlining the vaccine supply chain, according to the Health Ministry.
Under the revised guidelines, vaccine doses are provided free of cost by the Centre and are allocated to states and Union Territories based on criteria such as population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination. The Centre procures 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced in the country. All above the age of 18 years are eligible for free vaccine doses.
The Centre had earlier allowed states and private hospitals to procure 50 per cent of the vaccines following demands for decentralisation of the process. However, after several states complained of problems including funding, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the revised vaccine guidelines.
In order to incentivise production and encourage new vaccines, domestic manufacturers are given the option to provide vaccines directly to private hospitals. This is restricted to 25 per cent of their monthly production under the new guidelines.