While India has demonstrated it can ramp up vaccine delivery, daily average vaccinations need to nearly double to meet the government’s stated target for the year-end
In large part, India’s much-improved covid-19 vaccination effort rests on a boost in supply of jabs. But that would not be enough if not for the infrastructure, which, too, is improving by the day. The average number of operational vaccination centres has increased to 65,780 this past week from 32,552 two months ago, latest data shows.
India’s record 22.8 million doses on 17 September was possible because it set up over 110,000 centres that day, 43% more than the previous record. Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Telangana, Gujarat and Haryana are the five states that have ramped up the most—they now average at least three times as many vaccination sites a day as they did two months ago.
Each of these states has also administered at least 500 doses per 1,000 population. Among the states with lowest vaccine distribution rates, while Bihar and Jharkhand have doubled the vaccination sites since July, Uttar Pradesh has increased it by about 62%. Kerala, which has a coverage of 907 doses per 1,000 population, increased the number of sites from 1,005 in the third week of July to 1,622 this week.
While India has demonstrated its ability to ramp up distribution, the key constraint will remain the production of vaccines. India has to administer 17.9 million doses a day to reach its 2.16 billion target by year-end. In the last seven days, it averaged 9.7 million doses a day.
India recorded the biggest ramp-up in vaccination coverage this week among the 10 most populous countries. Bangladesh slid down from its top slot to third. Even with an improved pace of growth of late, Bangladesh’s vaccination coverage has remained the lowest in this group, at 22 doses per 100 population. The country is set to receive vaccines from India in October as part of Serum Institute of India’s commitment towards Covax.
Indonesia, which moved to the second spot this week, registered a 6.9% weekly growth in coverage, as it aims to inoculate at least 70% of its population with at least one dose by November this year when it plans to reopen its borders. So far, 45% of its population has received at least the first dose. Philippines, in fourth place, has maintained its high pace, after receiving 9.8 million vaccines this week, mostly from China’s Sinovac.
India has reported a 4.4% growth in the number of new weekly infections, its first increase in three weeks. Of its 717 districts, 269 have seen a rise, with 61 reporting more than 100 cases. On the brighter side, 173 districts reported no new infection.
Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, and Mizoram saw the highest growth in the past week. Jammu and Kashmir, which has seen a steady increase this month, reported 1,122 cases in the last seven days, the most in a week since July. Over 50% of the cases are from Srinagar. Ladakh reported 118 new cases, up from 32 last week. Cases in Leh shot up to 115 this week from 21 cases the week before, amidst increased tourist presence.
While Kerala continues to report the most new cases, its numbers have been consistently dropping. Mizoram saw a growth in cases for the seventh straight week, reporting over 8,000 new cases in the past week.
India continued to see a declining death toll. The 2,120 covid-related deaths this week were 2.7% lower than last week. Nine states and Union territories reported no new deaths, and 14 reported fewer than 10 each.
Kerala, which leads the death toll in the country, reported 1,052 deaths this week, more than the next three put together. Maharashtra reported 387 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu (154) and Karnataka (131). While the death tally in Tamil Nadu has decreased since last week, it has risen in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Karnataka reported 131 deaths, up from 79 last week, mainly on account of an increase in Bengaluru Urban, Belgaum, and Udupi. Among districts, Thrissur, Malappuram, and Palakkad, all from Kerala, reported the most deaths.
To ensure more Indians do not die of covid-19, the country has the challenge of further increasing the pace of vaccinations even as it resumes vaccine exports.