New Delhi: Amid a massive spike in COVID-19 cases in India, several states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Jharkhand, are facing coronavirus vaccine shortage.
India is currently witnessing the second wave of COVID-19 and reported more than 1.2 lakh new infections on Wednesday, the highest single-day spike ever since the beginning of the pandemic.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said the state is facing a vaccine shortage and demanded 40 lakh doses every week from the Centre.
“I have just been informed that the Centre increased COVID-19 vaccine doses from seven lakhs to 17 lakhs. Even this is less because we need 40 lakh vaccine doses a week and 17 lakh doses are not enough,” Tope added.
Satara, Sangli, Panvel have stopped vaccination today while Buldhana has only today’s vaccine stock left, Tope said.
The Maharastra Health Minister added that according to the latest release order of vaccines by the Centre, Maharashtra was only given 7.5 lakh vaccine dosages. While Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana have been given far more vaccines than Maharashtra, he claimed.
The situation is no different in Jharkhand with the state Health Minister Banna Gupta saying the state is left with vaccine stock for only a couple of days. “We have stock for the next 1-2 days. We have made a request to the Union Home Minister and I am hopeful that he will provide us the vaccine,” Gupta said.
“Around 18,27,800 vaccines have been administered as the first dose and 2,78,000 vaccines as the second dose. We have spoken to Union Health Minister and requested him to immediately provide us around 10 lakh vaccines for the first dose. We will get it either today or tomorrow,” he added.
On being asked whether any district of the state facing a shortage of vaccines, he said, “We do have vaccines available with us but there has been a shortage at some locations. So we have spoken to Union Health Minister.”
Terming Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s remarks “unfortunate” that the Chhattisgarh government was spreading misinformation and panic on COVID-19 vaccination, state Health Minister TS Singh Deo on Wednesday had said such remarks affect the joint efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
“It’s right and worrisome that mortality is increasing in the state but saying that vaccination isn’t being done here is false. Centre’s data show that Chhattisgarh is one of the top four states of the nation that have vaccinated more than 10 per cent of its population,” he added.
Singh Deo said the state has a stock of vaccines for the next three days and has been assured that supply will continue (from the centre).
In Andhra Pradesh, a similar situation is being witnessed as the current stock of Covid-19 vaccination is expected to last for a couple of days only. The health department officials informed Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy that only three lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine are available in the state as of Thursday.
The CM, during a health review meeting on Thursday, ordered the officials to communicate with the central government and see that adequate supplies of doses reach the state in time.
The shortage of Covid-19 vaccines has been reported in Nellore and West Godavari, sources told ANI on Thursday.
On the condition of anonymity, an officer in the health department said, “Presently the state has 3.7 lakh doses, the state’s consumption per day is 1.3 lakh doses (could be more, up to 3 lakh but is less due to the scarcity of the doses ). So going at this level, a state could run out of vaccines by Thursday.”
Though there are reports of vaccine shortage in some parts of the Anantapur and Guntur districts also, the government officials did not confirm the news.
Meanwhile, Odisha Health Minister Naba Kisore Das said that if they won’t get vaccines within the next two days then they have to stop the vaccination drive in the state.
“It is very important to get vaccines from Centre. If we don’t get vaccines within these two days, then we will have to stop it (vaccination). Our 700 vaccination centers, out of 1400, have already closed. We hope we get the vaccines soon,” he added.
Das has written to the Union Health Minister requesting the supply of at least 10 days’ stock (or 25 lakh doses) of vaccine to the state immediately for effective vaccination of the targeted population.
“Right now we have 5.34 lakhs doses. We administer 2.5-lakh vaccines daily. So, our stock will last for 2 more days. We have written to the Centre to send us a minimum of 25-lakh vaccines for 10 days so that we can vaccinate properly,” he said.
The central government had on Tuesday said that there is no shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in any part of the country. “There is no vaccine shortage in any part of the country. The Centre is providing the required quantities to all states and union territories,” Vardhan had said.
India had started COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines — Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).
India commenced its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus from March 1.
The third phase began on April 1 for all above 45 years of age.