India produces 60 percent of the vaccine produced worldwide, but it is also the country with the highest number of Kovid-19 cases after the US. India not only has to vaccinate its people but also has to fulfill its commitment to other countries of the world. Can India meet this demand? Two vaccines have been approved in India - Kovishield which is making Oxford and AstraZeneca and the other one is Kovichen. Some other vaccines that are currently undergoing trials are also being produced in India. India's pharmaceutical companies have accelerated production in recent months. According to the Serum Institute of India, which is the largest producer, it can produce six to seven crore vaccines every month right now. According to Bharat Biotech, they can produce 200 million vaccines in a year, although they currently have only 20 million doses of cocaine. Other companies whose vaccine is currently undergoing trials are also in talks with Indian authorities and other countries to supply the vaccine when it is ready. However, there is not much information related to them.
How much does India need?
The Government of India has said that it will give vaccines to 300 million people by the end of July. The vaccination program will start from January 16 and the vaccine will be given to the frontline and healthcare workers first. There is a plan to vacate 60 crore people in seven months, that is, about 8.5 crore doses every month.
What will be India's role in the world?
The Serum Institute of India is part of the Kovacs Scheme supported by the World Health Organization. The aim is to provide vaccines to middle income (middle income) countries. In September last year, the Serum Institute had said to provide 200 million doses under this scheme - it could be the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or the US Novax dose. The Chief Executive of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawala said that this agreement can be increased to 90 crore doses. If this happens, the Serum Institute of India's commitment will be one billion doses.
Talking to BBC, the company said that it is their effort to increase the production to 10 million doses per month. In addition to the Kovacs scheme, the Serum Institute of India has entered into bilateral commercial deals with several countries to supply the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Poonawala said earlier this month that the vaccines had been approved on the condition that they would not be exported, but according to him, it was an illusion. The Government of India later clarified that exports would be allowed after Bangladesh expressed concern that it had a deal with Bangladesh to get three crore initial doses. A Foreign Ministry official said that India, as the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, is fully conscious of its commitments to neighbors and the rest of the world.
Apart from this, the company has also made deals with Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and Morocco. Although how many vaccines, how long they require, it is not yet clear. There are reports that Nepal, Brazil, and Sri Lanka may also show interest in the vaccine made in India, but Poonawala has said that their priority will be to meet domestic demand. 'Once we meet the initial requirements, then we will soon start exporting it to other countries.'
The spokesperson of the global vaccine alliance Gavi, who is helping to run the Kovacs scheme, said he is in regular contact with both Indian authorities and the Serum Institute of India. He said he was 'confident' that there would be no delay in commitment to Kovacs. Virologist Dr. Shaheed Jameel explains that the Kovacs plan is an international obligation, which would also not be good if Indian companies prohibit bilateral deals already agreed with other countries. He said that given the current availability, "I am not worried that there will be a shortage of vaccines in India." According to him, 'the hindrance would be how fast we actually vaccinate people.'
Another potential bottleneck is the availability of glass vials used for vaccines. There are concerns around the world that there may be a shortage of vials. However, according to the Serum Institute of India, he has not yet faced any such shortage.