Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday announced probable addition of four more Indian pharma firms to anti-coronavirus vaccine production drive by the months of October-November. Addition of these four companies is expected to cause a significant increase in the country's overall rate of vaccine production and inoculation.
Mandaviya stated during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha that India so far has administered 47 crore doses of vaccine and the Centre is making efforts to inoculate the entire country at the earliest.
Even 7 to 9 per cent of the doses that remain unutilised by private hospitals are being used by the government vaccination centres, he added.
Mandaviya was speaking amid a din in the house over the Opposition's demand for a discussion on the Pegasus issue and the farm laws.
"Vaccination drive is going on smoothly... It will get more accelerated in the coming days with the ramping up of production by four more Indian companies," the minister said.
The government expects that by October-November, four more Indian pharmaceutical companies will start production of indigenous vaccines that will help meet the domestic demand, he said.
Biologicals E and Novartis vaccines will also be available in the market in the coming days, while Zydus Cadila will soon get an emergency-use nod from an expert committee, the Union Health Minister said
At present, two companies (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute) are supplying the vaccine to the government. Sputnik vaccine is also available and production of which has begun, he added.
To a query by BJD member Amar Patnaik about the vaccine rollout plan for 12-18-year-old and the need for a third or fourth dose, Mandaviya said, "The government's target is to vaccinate the entire population at the earliest and constant efforts are being made to achieve this."
Unlike BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) and polio vaccines that came to India much later after its launch in other parts of the world, the vaccine against coronavirus was made available in India at the same time in the world due to the efforts of the Narendra Modi government, he said
The prime minister took steps, supported scientists and companies to ensure vaccines were available in the country at the earliest, the minister said.
"Thus vaccination drives began in India which has administered 47 crore doses so far, the maximum in the world. We are going to accelerate it further in the coming days," he said.
Responding to BJP member Susheel Kumar Modi's query on the government's plan to reduce the vaccine quota to private hospitals, the minister said it was not necessary as the unused vaccine quota of the private hospitals is taken by the government.
"In a month, we saw seven to nine per cent unused vaccines by private hospitals. So, we decided to take those unutilised doses in the government quota. Therefore, it is not necessary to reduce the quota for the private. The vaccination is happening smoothly," he said.
The Centre is buying 75 per cent of the vaccine produced to give free jabs to people, while 25 per cent is allocated for the private sector, the health minister added.
(With PTI Inputs)