INDIA – Indian government has announced 120 million doses of COVID vaccine will be availed for use in the month of June to help mitigate the COVID situation in the country.

This is an upscale from 79.4 million doses that were available in May for public inoculation in the Southern Asia country.

According to the Indian government, 60.9 million doses will be made available by the central government to states for vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers and those above the age of 45 years, while 58.6 million doses will be available for direct purchase by states and private hospitals.

Currently, India has administered about 212 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the most after China and the United States, but has given the necessary two doses to only about 3% of its 1.35 billion people.

The increase in number of available vaccine doses is of great importance to the country that is under a lot of pressure due to high COVID-19 cases reported daily coupled with high mortality rates. To date, the country has recorded a total of 27.9 million COID cases, while the death toll has reached 325,972, according to India’s health ministry. 

WHO termed the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern”, indicating that it has become a global health threat.

India’s COVID-19 situation has attracted a lot of concern globally pushing even multinationals like Diageo to put their weight behind the fight against COVID in that country. Diageo pledged 6 million USD to help combat effects of the pandemic in India.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, noted that this variant, known as B.1.617, has been found in preliminary studies to spread more easily than the original virus and there is some evidence it may able to evade some of the protections provided by vaccines. The shots, however, are still considered effective, she added.

Earlier this month, an Indian top government adviser said more than two billion doses of coronavirus vaccines will likely be available in India between August to December this year, including those from the two domestic manufacturers.

Several Indian states have reported an acute shortage of vaccines, forcing many regions, including the capital New Delhi, to again prioritise those aged above 45.

The country has recently begun to roll out Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, alongside the AstraZeneca vaccine produced locally at the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin made by local firm Bharat Biotech.