Easing the restriction over immunisation by Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, the central government has now allowed the vaccination centres to administer the vaccine’s first dose to all the age group although with a cap of 20 per cent.
In its latest order seen by The Statesman, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has now asked the government Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) to allow all the age groups for the first shot of Covaxin. However, the CVCs are directed to reserve a maximum of 20 per cent of their session capacity for the takers of primer dose.
The registration for the first dose of Covaxin can only be done via CoWIN as the government has closed spot/walk-in registration for it. Meanwhile, the second dose of Covaxin (online/spot registration) will continue to be for all age groups as is presently being followed.
The order, which is in effect Saturday onward, has come after a month-long stay on the first dose administration of the Covaxin which the union health ministry had directed to all the CVCs on June 6.
As per the officials, the capping of 20 per cent is in place considering the limited supply of Covaxin.
“The government vaccination centres may restart administration of the first dose of Covaxin. However, considering the limited vaccine supply, to begin with, the first dose slots may be limited to up to 20% of the total session capacity,” the order read.
“This would be continuously reviewed and depending upon the vaccine availability and the number of beneficiaries due for the second dose, graded augmentation of first dose slots will be done,” it stated.
Incidentally, the order has arrived after the top brass of Bharat Biotech met the newly appointed union health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, on Friday.
Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and Dr Suchitra Ella, joint managing director of Bharat Biotech had met Mandaviya and discussed the availability and future expansion as production per se of the Covaxin, sources said.
So far, Covaxin’s supply has roughly contributed only 10 per cent of the total doses administered in the nationwide Covid-19 immunisation programme.
However, the experts suggest that the latest rationing policy change is inconsequential in the vaccination drive.
“No approach is an ideal approach. However, the government must have a concrete plan to take forward the vaccination drive. It starts with acknowledging the problem that India indeed have a demand for vaccine way higher than the supply. Such measures are not effective until we address the core issue,” said Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, epidemiologist, public policy and health system expert.