COVID Vaccine, Diplomacy, Middle Income, Diplomatic attention, universal,

The ‘second wave’ of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has finally struck the second biggest nation in terms of population in the world. Amidst growing number of cases and deaths in India, the country continues to expand its vaccination drive to reach its vast population, with a focus on the highly vulnerable population and a short-term objective of preventing deaths. India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive has now shifted its focus from healthcare workers and frontline workers to those above the age of 45.

India has administered a total of 87 million shots. The country has primarily been focusing on the Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine Covishield, produced by Serum Institute of India (SII), along with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Currently, Covisheild accounts for 91 percent of the shots in India. As opposed to the ‘self-first’ strategy adopted by many countries, India has been a global provider of the COVID vaccines in the past few months. Over 64.5 million shots have been exported to 84 countries. Out of this, 18 million were provided under the COVAX initiative, 35.7 million were commercial supplies, and 10.5 were grants to different countries.

With about 10 million people completely vaccinated, and a population of 1.3 billion, India faced an overwhelming challenge. At the current average rate of ~3 million doses a day, estimates suggest that it will take the country 21 months to reach 75 percent of its population.

Trends in at least three countries show that COVID rates have flattened after the coverage of 40 percent of their respective population. For India to have such an impact on COVID rates, would require the covering at 520 million individuals, which at the current rate, would take about 10 more months. As such, India’s initial goal of covering 300 million people by August can only be realized if the average rate of doses rises to 3.5 million doses a day.

Table 1: Average Estimate of vaccine doses needed and time taken to vaccinate priority population of 300 million in India

Aug 2021 COVID Vaccine Target Population 300,000,000
Total People vaccinated in India (as on date) 11,140,459
People who have received a single shot of COVID vaccine 75,937,015
Target population yet to be vaccinated (based on Aug 2021 Goal) 288,859,541
Doses needed to vaccinate target population (2-dose assumption) 501,782,067
Average daily vaccination doses administered (7 day rolling average) 3,093,861
Days required to vaccinate target population (based on current daily average rate) 162
Months required to vaccinate target population (based on current daily average rate) 5.4
Required Daily Average to reach target population by End of August 2021 (146 days) 3,436,863

India’s vaccine stockpiles

While India has been earning global goodwill for its vaccine diplomacy efforts, the rising COVID rates have raised question on India’s ability to provide for its own people. Recent reports suggest that, though India will continue to support the global community, the country will be focusing more on its domestic needs until its able to ramp up its manufacturing efforts.

A recent research has confirmed that expanding vaccination efforts and reaching twice as many people will aid in slowing down infections and mutations. Delaying the second dose of the vaccine to 6-12 weeks seems favorable, as reaching a larger population base has more advantages.

Currently, SII, the primary producer of vaccines in India has been producing about 50-60 million doses a month on the average, adding up to a production of about 270 million doses (conservative assessment) till end March, according to publicly available data. Additionally, almost 50 million Covaxin doses have been supplied in the country. As of 17th March, a total of 70.6 million doses of COVID vaccine have been supplied to States/UTs.

Publicly available data suggests that by March end, approximately 316 million doses of COVID vaccine have been manufactured within India (Table 2). With India’s 87 million domestic shots and 64.5 million exports, this begs the question of how the remaining vaccine doses—amounting to 164.5 million—can be accounted for? The ‘missing vaccines’ are likely in the warehouses or in the states’ vaccine cold chains; however, the latest data on the latter is awaited.

Figure 1: Vaccine supplies based on unverified publicly available information (in million)

Recently, the Government of India informed the Rajya Sabha that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has planned a production capacity of ~150 million doses a year. Post Indian government’s demand to expand production, Bharat Biotech requested the Department of Biotechnology for additional fund up to INR 1.5 billion to expand its manufacturing capacities—INR 750 million each for both its facilities in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

The government informed Parliament in March that the manufacturing capacity of SII is about 70-100 million doses per month. In a recent interview, Adar Poonawalla of SII stressed that even if SII could increase its production capacity to 100 million in a month, India’s COVID vaccine drive would require multiple manufacturers to meet its needs. Responding to the government’s request of expansion, Poonawala said he requires, “Rs 3,000-cr grant to boost vaccine capacity beyond 100 million per month”.

Firstly, the country needs to accelerate the approvals for international vaccines, especially that of single-shot vaccines such as that of Johnson & Johnson. This would greatly reduce the logistical burden the country currently faces. In addition, Indian companies have already signed contract with Russian authorities to produce more than 800 million doses of Sputnik V in India, approvals for which need to be fast-tracked as well.

Secondly, the currently dire situation of a record 115,312 new cases in a day, calls for enhanced participation of the private healthcare sector to reach the high priority demographic groups. SII stressed that while the average price of Covishield is US $20 (INR 1500), it has been providing vaccines to the Indian government at ~US $2 (INR 150). Once SII and BB push up production to the planned levels with government support, possibly a more direct interface between the vaccine makers and the healthcare providers can be explored.

In the meantime, despite the claimed production numbers over last few months painting a comfortably high supply of vaccines in the country, instances of vaccine shortage have started being reported. For instance, Maharashtra reached out to the Centre requesting additional doses at a faster pace, citing that at the current levels of stock, they will run out of doses within the next 3 days. The state has requested a supply of 4 million doses each week to ensure keep up active vaccination drives. The government should put out timely information about vaccine doses available with the states to quell any such concerns and panic following amplified misinformation in a situation where perceived production capacity and numbers on the ground have considerable mismatch.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Kriti Kapur


Covid-19: What US, China data tell us about children’s risk profile

Covid-19: Impact on Africa

Covid-19 pandemic-pandemonium: Need for a more holistic idea of disaster management

Nigeria must not forget its poor in the Covid-19 world

No, China isn’t winning the virus propaganda battle

Mauritius: Old and new challenges in a post-pandemic world

A global comparison of COVID-19 deaths: How is India doing in counting its sick and dead?

How China overcame the Covid-19 pandemic

Amid Covid-19 crisis, its politics as usual in Slovenia

Redefining the development narrative during Covid-19: The private sector perspective

A global pandemic and globalisation

Technology and business order post COVID-19

France facing Covid-19: growing pressure on the public health system

COVID19: What we’ve learnt from New York’s deadliest week

The circuit breaker: Singapore’s next move in its fight against COVID-19

American bioweapon or the ‘China Virus’? The war of words over COVID-19

Coexisting with #Covid19: Saving lives and the economy

The wrong diagnosis

Covid-19: China’s donation diplomacy towards Africa turns into a public relations disaster

COVID19: The Chinese military is busy exploiting the pandemic

Mitigating risks and adjusting to isolation: How Argentina is dealing With Covid19

Covid-19: The perfect storm for deep reform

#Covid19: For now, lives over livelihoods

How a changing global order will emerge in the post-Covid world

The Caribbean region must come together to fight Covid19

Politics of pandemic: Public health can no longer wait

Georgia goes all out in fight against Covid19

COVID19: A boost for Indian labour in the global market

Armed Forces and the Covid19 pandemic

Bhutan’s preparedness and response to COVID19

Economic recovery and recurring lockdown in China after Covid19 crisis

Public transit in post COVID19 India: where do we go from here

Critiquing Amartya Sen’s contention of post-lockdown society

Post pandemic city planning

Could third world countries seek a new world order in Covid19 aftermath?

Economic vulnerabilities and power shifts in a post-Covid19 world

Opportunity in Crisis: Will a pandemic lead to peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan? 

Health Policy belongs to the national security domain and different stakeholders must engage

Can the global economy survive COVID19 shocks?

The COVID19 reality of Afghanistan

Changing the script

Leadership in the time of Corona

PM’s India shutdown is an unprecedented gamble

COVID19: Tamil Nadu’s demand for fiscal grant can put centre in a fix

COVID19 brings Australia to the crossroads

The battle to set oil prices

Luxembourg faces the same dilemma as the EU: become a bridge or a fortress

Peace during a pandemic: The US fumbles on in Afghanistan

Crisis communication and the Coronavirus contagion

COVID-19 and maritime operations

How PM Modi scored with COVIDiplomacy

Covid-19: The crisis will strengthen anti-globalisation voices

An old scourge in a new, uncertain age

To what extent will coronavirus outbreak rewire global trade dynamics?

The Chinese model is under stress

A sneeze, a global cold and testing times for China

Corona: The case for taking China to ICJ

Covid-19, India and crisis communication

How Is COVID-19 reshaping China-India relations?

France must confront the grim realities of its war against COVID 19

Covid19: G20 leaders reclaim power from bureaucrats – and China

The United Nations Security Council and securitization of COVID-19

Mexico can teach us COVID 19 management

Covid-19 and European solidarity: The fight for who we are

Dr WHO and Mr Hyde

Certified Corona-Immunity as a resource and a way back to normality

Coronavirus derails Glasgow

Food security and the Corona Virus

The Polish example: Defending the castle in the European East

COVID19: Americans brace for brutal week against grim backdrop of chaotic policymaking

SOS for the road transport sector at the time of CoVid19 pandemic

Despite Coronavirus outbreak, India-Israel friendship continue to shine

COVID-19 and international collaboration in a leaderless world

Covid-19: A report from Nigeria

As Dubai EXPO 2020 is postponed, a tough time for NRIs

The virtual space uptick during Covid-19

OECD, BRICS Countries must mitigate Covid-19 fallout through targeted measures

A new human being will emerge in the post-Covid-19 world

Ravaged by war, Cameroon’s Southwests region turns attention to Covid-19 fight

What India needs on 14 April

Covid-19 crisis and a probable role for the Indian Military

COVID-19 and the gameplay of West Asia’s geopolitics

Covid19 has sharpened great power politics

Liechtenstein’s national and international response to COVID19

Why China and Pakistan need each other in the Covid19 crisis

Diplomacy is another victim of the virus

Gated globalisation and fragmented supply chains

West Asia is staring at an economic crisis. India has to be prepared

Fishing in troubled waters during a pandemic

Xi’s moves seem to be backfiring

Iran’s grim fight against coronavirus

Why is the Covid 19 situation so grim in MP?

Hacking the pandemic : Lessons from the Silicon valley of India

Between firmness and hesitation: How Russia is responding to the COVID19 challenge

World after Covid19 pandemic

Israel must bring its diverse communities together in Covid19 fight

China tightens grip over the South China Sea – should India worry?

Nod, Nudge, (K)nock out: Ways for RBI to prompt banks to lend

Will Covid19 crisis hasten the end of PM Abe’s regime?

Covid19: China-Russia make strategic geopolitical moves in Italy

Leadership accountability for Covid19 and the reasons for WHO’s apathy

Maldives: Amidst worsening Covid19 crisis, ISIS ‘claims maiden attack’

The impact COVID19 pandemic is exerting on e-commerce

COVID19 and competition for influence in South Asia

Examining India’s employment landscape amidst the COVID19 disruptions

Will COVID19 crisis rejuvenate the coalition of SAARC nations

The future of international cooperation in times of existentialist crises

Rebooting Ramadan for COVID19 times: With tech but without Iftar parties

COVID19’s impact on India’s solar industry

Reset in EU-China relations tougher in a post Covid19 world

India fires a salvo at China

Bend it like Kerala: How an Indian state is holding its own against COVID19

Post covid stimulus for clean energy: Govt must focus on developing an EV ecosystem

Women leaders and alpha males up against Covid19

East Africa and Kenya under the COVID19 emergency

Can ‘Advance manufacturing’ change the game in India-Australia relationship

International trade and environment sustainability: The two must tango

Fiscal prudence still matters

Maldives: Evacuation, yet another-milestone in bilateral ties

2020 could be to Narendra Modi what 1991 was to P.V. Narasimha Rao: a lasting legacy

China’s salami slicing overdrive

Rolling up the welcome mat for Chinese investors

China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea and the implications for India

Xi Jinping: A matter of state security

How growth and equity get a boost in Finance Minister’s economic stimulus package

Why is China building its nuclear arsenal as world fights COVID?

Keep Hobbes at bay whilst Covid is at play

Nepal: Challenges of reviving economy, post-Covid

The pandemic and China are strengthening US-India relations, for now

The trends shaping the post-COVID19 world

How the pandemic is an opportunity to create a ‘more equal’ world

COVID19 and the middle power moment in global politics

Coronavirus is straining the concept of federalism

Infections, Islamophobia, and intensifying societal polarization

Government is being cautious, and that’s sensible

Covid19 and implications on global health governance

Community model from rural Maharashtra to combat Covid19

Covid19: The birth of a new power

Biological Weapons and Biosecurity – Lessons from the COVID19 war

What can we learn from the genomes of the novel coronavirus?

What India’s digital divide means for migrant workers in a COVID19 world and beyond

COVID19 has hit Africa’s amateur athletes

Exiting the ‘COVID chakravyuh’ through a bioethics prism

Guiding democracy through Covid19: Poland shows us what not to do

Rethink, Revive, Rescue: From the Pandemic to Multilateralism 2.0

Return of the migrants

Covid19 is reshaping Brazil’s politics

Vietnam emerges victorious in fight against Covid19

How Georgia tackled Covid19 bit by bit

The potential fallouts of EU’s collective response to COVID19

Covid19 has forced us to think about building a remote working culture

How Bangladesh is addressing the Covid19 pandemic

Covid reality: Cost of human lives and how to fund healthcare

Walled city dilemmas in the fight against COVID19: The case of Ahmedabad

Viral load matters: Frontline healthcare workers 11% of US COVID19 cases

Sustained shift to virtual classrooms may not be a good idea for India

Cooperation of consequence: Lessons from the 2004 tsunami response in the era of COVID19

COVID, oil collapse and economic contraction: Can the low carbon transition be salvaged?

Antibody tests not useful for back-to-work policy decisions: Expert

Risks of putting all eggs in China basket

Mumbai in numbers

Every policy change does not a reform make

Reviving the Indian economy- revisiting Mr. Keynes

India needs to win back the third world’s trust

Epidemic in China and the world: Public health, earth science and geopolitics

COVID-19: China’s ‘Health Silk Road’ diplomacy in Iran and Turkey

China’s footprint is growing within the United Nations

Russian response to Covid-19: The challenges ahead

Inter-species spillover of viruses: Understanding zoonosis and India’s future concern

Nature, politics and Covid-19

The real journey of Hydroxychloroquine

The economic cost of COVID19 is bigger than the great depression

To die hungry or die sick

US-India cooperation against COVID19

Towards a quad-plus arrangement

Will the coming monsoons result in a spike in COVID19 cases in India?

Covid19 and Conflict in Myanmar: No Truce for the Rohingya

Perspectives on SARS-CoV-2 strains

COVID19 and the acceleration of digital transformations in maritime logistics

  • May 22 2020

How the Visegrád group countries have managed the Corona crisis

Lockdown: uncertain gains, rising losses

Covid Corrections: How the Pandemic Reveals the Failures of India’s Growth Model

COVID19: Public health is a question of national security

Understanding the coming challenges to India’s pharma sector

Lockdowns, curfews and prayer: Exploring East African countries’ COVID19 response

WHO, the battleground for cold war 2.0

Covid-19 and emerging economies: What to expect in the short- and medium-term

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Germany’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Covid19-Indian political class needs to band, not to bicker

Understanding the risks posed by COVID-19: A Public Health perspective

No, India doesn’t need a bigger stimulus

Russia in the post-coronavirus world: New ideas for foreign policy

Building a new India after Covid19 amidst the fear

Global contest for medical equipment amidst the COVID19 pandemic

State of the States: Two months of the pandemic

Need to revisit Anganwadi workers

From SMART to sustainable cities: Is COVID19 an opportunity?

50 days of lockdown: Measuring India’s success in arresting COVID-19

Driving self-reliance while combating a pandemic

Post-Covid, nations will look inwards; India should look at neighbourhood: Ex-NSA

The migrant as economic hero and saviour

Atmanirbhar Bharat package concludes with a Rs 21 lakh crore climax

What does COVID19 tell us about democracy vs authoritarianism?

Poor sanitation in Mumbai’s slums is compounding the Covid19 threat