India's largest hospital chain Apollo Hospitals has said that it is ready to administer 1 million coronavirus vaccines every day. The hospital chain has trained 6,000 staff across 71 hospitals, hundreds of clinics and thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots. However, the government is yet to make it clear on how the distribution would take place and whether private healthcare services would be involved.
Managing Director Suneeta Reddy said that the company's talks with officials in New Delhi is yet to provide any firm guidance. Reddy said that they want to know if the government will handle the entire thing alone or would involve the private sector, as mentioned in a report in Bloomberg. The question, she said, is how to double the amount of people who can be vaccinated. The government can do it but it will take time, said Reddy.
Moreover, Apollo believes that a vaccine shot will be available in the next 60-120 days. Krishna Ella, Chairman of Bharat Biotech believes that there will be a flood of vaccines in the next five to six months.
However, companies have raised questions about India's capacity to inoculate its 130 crore people. Unequal access between the wealthy and the poor also remains a cause for concern.
Apollo has already held talks with the Serum Institute but is awaiting the nod from New Delhi.
The hospital chain has treated more than 30,000 coronavirus patients and has provided 400,000 tests, said Reddy. The company suffered a loss of $28 million in the three months through June due to the nationwide lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the initial months of the pandemic.
However, a rise in local demand has compensated the company. Occupancy rates are now at 67% out of which roughly 15-20 per cent are coronavirus patients in specially segregated facilities.