In a virtual conference with state ministers and Principal Secretaries/Additional Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and eight northeastern states of India, the Union Health Minister said all of India’s adult population would be vaccinated by the end of 2021 as they will have procured 267 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses by then. Dr. Harsh Vardhan also announced that 51 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses will be made available by July, and another 216 crore doses will be available between August and December.
In a groundbreaking record, India has crossed 18 crore doses during its vaccination drive. The state governments have more than one crore doses still in stock as well. Vardhan said, “Between August to December 2021, India will have procured 216 crore vaccine doses while, by July this year, 51 crore doses will be procured.” He also added that, under the leadership of PM Modi, India fought COVID-19 in 2020 and will fight the virus in 2021. He also applauded the performance of state administrations to fight the virus and ensure the “welfare of the people,” according to an official statement by the Health Ministry.
Vardhan spoke about the increase in laboratories testing COVID-19 in India. He said. “From having just one laboratory at the start of the pandemic, today there are over 2000 laboratories for testing COVID across the country. We have increased our capacity to test 25 lakh, people daily.”
On 19 May, India achieved a “historical first” and made a global record when it tested the highest number of people – over 20 lakh – in one day.
Vardhan also spoke to the group about the increasingly dire situations in their states and reassured Central government support. He urged states to ensure that their healthcare and frontline workers are fully vaccinated, as they are most vulnerable. Vardhan has asked them to better their health infrastructure and strengthen testing facilities in peri-urban and rural areas.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, said that testing needs to be increased. In areas that are hard to reach, telecommunication services should be used. With the black fungus spreading in Indian states and a short supply of oxygen, Choubey said that the centre would assist the states.
Vaccine wastage is a problem in the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Nagaland. Vikash Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health) State administrators, asked that these states also re-train their medical staff to ensure minimum wastage.