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Covid vaccination: Things are not going according to plan

The daily average of covid-19 vaccine doses has climbed from 1.9 million in May to 3.2 million in the first period of June to 5.6 million in the second period of June (post 20 June). (Bloomberg)Premium
The daily average of covid-19 vaccine doses has climbed from 1.9 million in May to 3.2 million in the first period of June to 5.6 million in the second period of June (post 20 June). (Bloomberg)

  • States have shifted gears in their pace of covid-19 vaccination. Yet, even if they are able to maintain this higher pace, most high-population states will take 3-9 months to give one dose to their adult population and 6-19 months for both doses

Most Indian states saw vaccination rates drop in May. The first 20 days of June were better. The last 10 days of June, when the centre finally took charge, even better. Yet, even if they maintain their latest pace, 10 of the 15 most-populous states will take 3 to 9 months to give the equivalent of one dose to their entire population above the age of 18 years. 13 of them will take 6 to 19 months to complete two doses.

The daily average of covid-19 vaccine doses has climbed from 1.9 million in May to 3.2 million in the first period of June to 5.6 million in the second period of June (post 20 June). In the first period, all 15 of the most-populous states registered an increase. In the second period, even on a rising base, 14 showed an increase, with Andhra Pradesh being the exception.

Among this set of 15 states, there is wide variance both in terms of current vaccine coverage and current pace. As a result, even maintaining their respective latest 10-day average will lead to vastly different outcomes.

At the top end, only five states can deliver the equivalent of one dose to their adult population in three months: Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Rajasthan. While Kerala, Gujarat and Rajasthan have led in vaccine coverage all along, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have picked up pace more recently. At the bottom end, three states will need more than six months to complete even one dose: Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. For them, both doses will take 14-19 months.

Olympic Deadline

Among the 10 most-populous countries, India has maintained its fourth place in terms of weekly growth in covid-19 vaccine coverage. Japan, China, and Indonesia raised their vaccination pace faster than India. On cumulative doses given, India ranks seventh among the 10 most populous countries, with doses per capita at 24. China continues to make great strides, increasing doses per capita from 75 to 85 (per 100 persons) during the week, according to data portal Our World in Data.

For the 11th straight week, Japan registered the highest weekly growth in per capita doses administered in this set. Its capital Tokyo is scheduled to host the Olympics, postponed from last year, from 23 July to 8 August. The country has been racing against time to vaccinate its population. However, since it started late, Japan has been able to vaccinate only 23% of its population with one dose and 11.5% with both doses.

Third Watch

Back in India, even as total new cases trend lower, there are numbers emerging that need to be watched in the context of a possible third wave. In Maharashtra, a close second to Kerala in new cases, weekly new cases have crept up from 60,893 two weeks ago to 62,748 last week and 63,817 this week. The rise is, so far, limited to five of its 35 districts: Thane, Raigarh, Gadchiroli, Kolhapur and Mumbai. Thane’s weekly count of new cases has surged from 2,671 two weeks ago to 6,814 this week.

Kolhapur registered the highest weekly cases this week. It is after 12 weeks that a district from Maharashtra leads in weekly cases. Elsewhere, 14 districts across six north-eastern states have reported a steady increase in new cases in the past two weeks, albeit on a lower base. For example, new cases in Golaghat in Assam increased from 1,314 last week to 1,791 this week.

Death Respite

This week, all-India covid-19 deaths were about one-third compared to two weeks ago: down from 22,234 to 7,461. Most states are trending lower.

Only 15 districts have reported higher deaths for each of the last two weeks. Three districts stand out: Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka, Khordha in Odisha and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. Dakshina Kannada reported 102 deaths the past week, its highest-ever weekly tally. In the first three weeks of June, it averaged 38 weekly deaths. In Khordha, weekly deaths have risen from 36 two weeks ago to 40 last week to 59 this week. In the last one month, Allahabad has registered 215 deaths, with 121 in the last 10 days.

Such instances of mounting deaths also underscores the need to increase the pace of vaccination. This week, Moderna became the fourth covid-19 vaccine to be approved by India. But it’s supply will be limited. For now, Covishield and Covaxin remain the supply mainstays.

(howindialives.com is a database and search engine for public data)

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