India’s largest health care chain expects a private market for Covid-19 vaccines to open up across the country within weeks, a move that may boost current government efforts to inoculate 300 million people by August.
Apollo Hospitals Enterprises is working with the government to provide vaccines for front-line workers at 27 centers as part of the nationwide vaccination drive. The operator has trained 6,000 people and designated 3,500 sites for an expansion of the inoculation campaign, according to Managing Director Suneeta Reddy.
“Our expectation is maybe March,” she said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. “We have the advantage of so much of the manufacturing happening in India, so there will be vaccinations available unlike in a lot of other countries. There is great potential to cover many more people.”
About 8.6 million people in India have gotten their first dose of vaccine since the inoculation drive began a month ago. At the current pace, the country will fall short of its target of reaching about a quarter of its population by August. Even though the rate of infection has dramatically fallen in the past five months, vaccination delays risk leaving the door open to a second wave and new strains of the virus.
The government plans to give first priority for shots to 30 million health care and front-line workers. The second phase includes people over age 50 or at particular risk to Covid, an estimated 270 million in total. Last year, Apollo began telling its clients via its digital app that it’s ready to administer 1 million vaccine doses a day and customers will “be the first ones to know” when vaccines are ready.