A total of 122 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be required to vaccinate the population of 59 crore in 18-45 years age group, the Centre has said.
"Vaccination is the topmost priority of the government and all efforts are being made to achieve an objective of 100 per cent vaccination in the shortest time possible keeping the available resources in mind and availability of vaccine doses into consideration," the Centre said in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court.
"It is submitted that considering the limited availability of two vaccines which are presently available in India namely Covaxin and Covishield, it became incumbent upon the government to prioritise vaccination in the most scientific manner. It is submitted that while prioritising vaccination the first priority was towards health workers," the Centre said.
"It is submitted that projected mid-year population for 2021 for the age group of 18 to 45 years is about 59 crore. To vaccinate this target, a total of 122 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be required (which factors in some vaccine wastage which is inevitable)," the Centre added.
Stating that the central government has already taken proactive steps for procurement of other vaccines apart from Covishield and Covaxin, the Centre told the apex court that it has fast-tracked emergency approvals for foreign-produced COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted approval in other countries.
The government said it has already granted a license to Sputnik V vaccine for restricted use in an emergency situation based on data from studies/clinical trials in Russia and other countries coupled with data from phase II/III trials conducted in India by Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
"It is submitted that as per estimates, the availability of locally manufactured Sputnik V vaccine will start from July onwards. It is expected that locally manufactured Sputnik V vaccine will be available to the extent of 8 million and 16 million doses (for 4 million and 8 million individuals) for the months of July and August 2021 respectively.
"It is further submitted that the Union of India has been in constant touch with Pfizer, Moderna and J&J since mid-2020 with the objective of encouraging these companies to develop/supply/manufacture their respective vaccine through their local partners in India," the Centre said.
Taking note of the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Supreme Court on April 22 said it expected the Centre to come out with a "national plan" to deal with distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.
(With Inputs from PTI)