India has ordered 10 million more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 4.5 million more of a homegrown one from Bharat Biotech, company representatives told Reuters. Just the two shots have been used in what India calls the world's biggest immunisation programme to cover 300 million people by August, starting with healthcare and other workers to reach the elderly and those with existing conditions by March.
SII, the world's biggest vaccine maker, had supplied 11 million doses for the inoculation campaign, which has covered 6.3 million front-line workers since it began on Jan. 16. "The second order is already in place, it's for 10 million doses," an SII spokesman said, adding that the figure was part of the 100 million doses the company has agreed to sell to the government for 200 rupees ($2.74) each.
Bharat Biotech, which developed its vaccine with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, has supplied 5.5 million doses. A Bharat Biotech spokeswoman said it was selling 4.5 million more. India's drug regulator says SII's COVISHIELD vaccine is about 72% effective, while Bharat Biotech says COVAXIN's last-stage trial results are expected by March.
The regulator is expected to approve Russia's Sputnik V and Cadila Healthcare's ZyCov-D vaccines in the next few months. India's infections rose 9,110 in the last 24 hours to stand at 10.85 million, the world's highest tally after the United States, though they have fallen sharply from a mid-September peak of nearly 100,000.
The health ministry said a daily toll of less than 100 deaths over the last four days took the total to more than 155,000.