Illustration: Gattara / Freepik
Illustration: Gattara / Freepik

Getting the jab done

Southasia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, explained.

Over the past few months, Southasia has steadily made headway in the race for vaccinating its population against COVID-19. The following report provides an overview of the procurement and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Southasia, based on the latest figures available. From the reports coming from across the region, it is clear that some countries are faring better than others, partly due to deals secured with manufacturers, early approval of COVID-19 vaccines, and coherent, systematic inoculation strategy and implementation. Others, meanwhile, are struggling due to poor planning and supply shortages.

With the pace of vaccinations accelerating in almost all countries, a noteworthy development has been India's overwhelming presence in the region's rollout programmes. The Serum Institute of India – the local manufacturer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known by the acronym Covishield – with its capacity to produce 50 to 70 million doses a month, has played a vital role in the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine. In what is being dubbed as vaccine diplomacy, India has distributed free doses under its grant assistance programme 'Vaccine Maitri' to almost all the countries in the region. However, following a spike in new coronavirus cases in late March 2021, India has temporarily halted vaccine exports to focus on domestic demand. This move will impact nearly all the countries in Southasia, especially those who are relying exclusively on India's Covishield and have already administered the first dose.

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