Despite Indian going full swing in Covid 19 vaccination, a report by IMF economist Ruchir Agarwal and IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath says that the vaccination coverage in the country will remain under 35 per cent by December 2021.
In the IMF Staff Discussuion Note “A Proposal to End the COVID-19 Pandemic” the authors said that India will need to immediately place sufficient vaccine orders of about one billion doses to get 60 percent coverage.
“For India, current bilateral purchases plus coverage from COVAX will cover about 25 percent of its population by the first half of 2022,” they said in the Discussion note.
They also said that the Government of India’s financing of about 600 million dollars to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to boost production capacity in the near term was a welcome step. They also said that efforts should be made to ensure that the projected production capacity would materialize without delay. This includes securing the supply chain for raw materials—supported by international efforts to eliminate export restrictions on all critical inputs.
WORST YET TO COME
They also warned that the ongoing catastrophic second wave in India, following a terrible wave in Brazil, was a sign that the worst was yet to come in the developing world. Stating that India’s health system did fairly well in the first wave, its health system in the second wave is so overwhelmed that many are dying because of a lack of medical supplies like oxygen, hospital beds, and medical care. India is a warning of possible events in other low- and middle income countries.
The authors also mentioned that access to Covid 19 vaccines remained deeply unequal across countries. They stated that the 1.1 billion doses already administered concentrated in a few countries. The report points out that less than two percent of Africa’s population got vaccinated at the end of April 2021. On the other hand, more than 40 percent of the population in the United States and more than 20 percent in Europe received at least one dose of the Covid 19 vaccine
On vaccine availability, the authors said that shortage of raw materials and export restrictions led to longer delays. The report says that various manufacturers including the Serum Institute of India (licensed manufacturers of Novavax and AstraZeneca) experienced substantial delays. And these delays are because of the ongoing export restrictions placed by the US as part of the Defense Production Act to secure its own vaccine supply chain. Apart from this, India has delayed most of its vaccine exports to prioritize vaccinations at home.