NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr Vinod K Paul, during a press conference on August 3, 2021, claimed that the government had met its target of providing the states with 51.6 crore vaccine doses for July.
"As far as I can remember, we had said that about 51 crore doses would be available by the end of July. We have achieved that 51-crore target. We have communicated that and are hopeful and confident that the roadmap presented to you from August to December will also hold good," Paul said.
But, data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), on July 31 shows this achievement didn't take place until almost a week later.
This promise of procuring these doses was made by the Former Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and even in an affidavit the Centre submitted in the Supreme Court.
On May 15, 2021, Former Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, while chairing a review meeting on COVID-19, had said that India would have 51.6 crore doses by the end of July. "We will have 51.6 crore vaccine doses by the end of July including the 18 crore doses already administered. Sputnik has been approved. This along with the slated approval of the new vaccine of Zydus Cadila, Serum Institute of India- Novavax vaccine, Bharat Biotech's nasal vaccine and the Genova mRNA vaccine will push the availability of COVID vaccines to 216 crore doses in the August-December period," said Vardhan.
In a subsequent affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, dated June 26 (which FactChecker has access to), the Centre again claimed that 51.6 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses would be provided by July 31. "It is submitted that from January 2021 to 31st July 2021, a total of 51.6 crore doses will be available… leaving a requirement of approximately 135 crore vaccine doses for complete vaccination to the eligible population," read the affidavit.
By the end of June, the government had, according to a press release issued on June 30, 2021, provided more than 32.13 crore vaccine doses to states and Union territories and over 33.54 crore doses had been administered.
However, the press note issued on July 31 showed that the Centre had provided around 48.78 crore vaccine doses to states and UTs and not achieved its 51.6 crore target as claimed by Paul. By the end of July, the Centre still had to make 2.82 crore vaccine doses available to states to fulfil its promise.
It was only after a week, on August 7, that the government crossed the 51.6 crore mark. "More than 51.66 crore (51,66,13,680) vaccine doses have been provided to states/UTs so far, through all sources and a further 55,52,070 doses are in the pipeline," read the August 7 press release by the MoHFW.
Moreover, the consumption of vaccines including wastage was 45.8 crore doses, according to the MoHFW's press release on July 31. More than 68.5 lakh doses were in the pipeline then. The vaccination coverage crossed the 51 crore milestone on August 9.
When FactChecker contacted Paul for clarification, he only commented on the remaining vaccine doses that were in the pipeline and nothing else. "Over 2 crore doses are in the pipeline with states in addition," said Paul over a text message.