India at cusp of a rapid ramp-up: NITI Aayog’s VK Paul on COVID-19 vaccine production

New Delhi: As the new phase of universalization of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from Monday (June 21, 2021), NITI Aayog’s VK Paul said that India is at the cusp of a rapid ramp-up of COVID-19 vaccine production.

The Head of the National COVID-19 taskforce commented on increasing vaccine supplies and said that the June situation is better compared to May.

“The Centre has placed orders for 50% of production. There is still room for additional orders for 25% of production. We are at the cusp of a rapid ramp-up,” Dr Paul told an English news channel.

He also added that the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have made a very sincere effort, hand-in-hand and with the partnership of the Government of India to ramp up their supplies. 

“A sentiment we want to convey is that once supply rises, utilization can also be ensured. Inoculations can be done at a fast rate,” Dr Paul stated.

He informed that the discussion with international players is ongoing, including with Pfizer

“The supply of Pfizer vaccine is subject to conditionality, alien to us. The company has taken a certain position, has to align with our position. Our understanding of how to move forward with Pfizer, Moderna is moving well,” he said. 

Dr Paul noted that a final decision has to be compatible with Indian laws. 

“The intent is clear, we want vaccines to come to India. Our hope is that it is possible to have vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna this year,” the NITI Aayog member added.

His comments came on a day when in a landmark achievement, nearly 81 lakh (80,95,314) doses were administered on the first day of the new phase of COVID-19 vaccination.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed happiness over the record-breaking vaccination numbers and said that the coronavirus vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19. 

“Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!,” he tweeted on Monday.

As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in May, more than 7.9 cr vaccines were available for the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination exercise, whereas, these were ramped up to 11.78 cr in June.  India has so far administered more than 28 crores doses

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