Zydus Cadila for 12-18 ages, over 51.6 crore total vaccines by July 31: Centre's affidavit to SC
In a 375-page affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Union ministry of health and family welfare stated that, while over 31 crore vaccines have been deployed till June 25, a total of 51.6 crore Covid vaccine doses would be made available by July 31.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had slammed the Centre's COVID vaccination policy, describing as "prima facie arbitrary and irrational" allowing states and private hospitals to charge those in the 18-44 age group while the jabs were offered free for groups in the first two phases, and ordered its review. Seeking to scrutinise the vaccination policy in detail, the top court had also asked the Centre to provide information including as to how Rs 35,000 crore, earmarked for vaccines, has been spent so far, and to place on record all relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking culminating in the policy.
The apex court's May 31 order, uploaded on its site on June 2, was critical of the Centre's decisions on liberalised vaccination policy, differential pricing of vaccines for Centre, states and private hospitals, basis of such a norm and mandatory registration on CoWIN app for booking slots for jabs in view of huge digital divide between rural and urban India and sought response from the government on its queries in in two weeks.
Giving the break-up of vaccines till the date of filing of the affidavit i.e. June 26, the Centre said a total of 35.6 crore doses were made available. There were 26.6 crore doses of Covishield, 8 crore Covaxin, and additional 1 crore doses as commodity assistance under COVAX facility. It also said that apart from these supplies, it is expected that around 16 crore doses will also be available during the period of May and July across the country. The Centre further said that 31.5 lakh doses of first component and 60,000 doses of second component of Sputnik V has been received.
It said that two vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) have been a part of the vaccination program since January 2021 and Sputnik V has received Emergency Use Authoridation by the DCGI in April 2021 and is now being administered in the country.
The government said, "In addition, some other domestic vaccines such as those from Biological E and Zydus Cadila are in the late stages of clinical trials and subject to the regulatory approvals, will further increase the availability of vaccines." The government said that in order to further increase vaccine availability and incentivising foreign manufacturers, the regulatory process for the use of foreign vaccines within India has been accelerated and simplified.
It informed the court that Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines, has concluded its clinical trial for between the age group of 12 to 18 years of age and, subject to the statutory permissions, it may be available in near future for children of the age group of 12 to 18 years of age. The Drugs Controller General of India, on May 12, had permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials of its vaccine Covaxin on volunteers between 2 to 18 years of age, and the enrolment process for this trial has also begun.
The government said that as per the projected mid-year population for 2020, the total population of the country aged 18 years and above is approximately 93-94 crore and as such, administering two doses to these beneficiaries would require an estimated 186 to 188 crore vaccine doses. "Out of this requirement, 51.6 crore doses will be made available for administration by July 31, 2021, leaving a requirement of approximately 135 crore vaccine doses for complete vaccination to the eligible population," it said.
Giving the breakup for vaccines quantity that may be receivable from all sources the Centre said that a total of 135 crore doses will be procured: Covishield (50 crore), Covaxin (40 crore), Bio E Subunit vaccine (30 crore), Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine (5 crore) and Sputnik V (10 crore). It said that the procurement of Bio E Subunit vaccine and Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine will be subject to approval which will come in the near future.
"It is submitted that the vaccination drive would obviously get a boost if the government of India succeeds in its attempts to procure vaccines available outside India such as vaccines of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna etc," the affidavit said.