UPDATED: April 30, 2021 16:39 IST
The ambitious Phase 3 vaccination drive in the country amid the raging second wave of Covid-19 across states is most likely to hit a roadblock on May 1 when it is scheduled to begin with vaccination for all adults above 18 years.
Several state governments have said they won’t be able to start the vaccination drive for all adults from May 1 due to a shortage in vaccine doses. These states also include the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa.
Two days ahead of the vaccination drive, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday that more than 1 crore vaccine doses are still available with the states and they will receive 20 lakh more doses in the next few days.
The ministry has said the Centre has so far provided nearly 16.16 crore vaccine doses to states and UTs free of cost. Of this, the total consumption including wastages is 15,10,77,933 doses.
Meanwhile, over 2.45 crore beneficiaries have registered themselves till Friday morning on the CoWIN platform for the Phase 3 vaccination drive that will start on Saturday. Registration for the newly eligible population groups started on Wednesday.
Serum Institute’s current manufacturing capacity is 6-7 crore doses per month while Bharat Biotech made around 2 crore doses in April as against 1.5 crore doses in March.
STATES PREDICT DELAY IN VACCINE DRIVE
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope has said unless the state gets 25-30 lakh vaccine vials immediately, it will not be able to start the inoculation drive for people in the 18-44 age group. “We are getting prepared for the third wave too. We need 12 crores dosages,” said Tope.
Meanwhile, the BMC has stopped the vaccination drive in Mumbai over a shortage in vaccine supply. BMC said on Friday, “Owing to non-availability of vaccine stock, no vaccination will be conducted at any Govt/BMC/Pvt CVC for the next 3 days (30 Apr-2 May). All efforts are being made to make more stock available and resume the drive. We urge Mumbaikars to cooperate with BMC.”
The Phase 3 vaccination drive in Karnataka will also see delays. Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said there is no vaccine stock in the state to start the drive on Saturday.
Sudhakar said, “Karnataka has placed an order for more than 1 crore doses. But they are not prepared to start delivery from tomorrow as scheduled. We are requesting people in the age group of 18-44 years to refrain from going to the hospital thinking they will be vaccinated.”
“We will definitely intimate you all when we get confirmation from SII. We request all to register and we will ensure on priority. We are trying our best to receive the vaccines and request the Government of India to intervene and support us since cases are really high in Karnataka,” the health minister said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has requested people in Delhi to not crowd the vaccination centres in the national capital on May 1 as there are no vaccine stocks to start the Phase 3 vaccination on Saturday.
“I request you to not queue up at the centres tomorrow. As soon as the vaccines come, we will make proper announcements. Only then people with appointments can start coming to the centres,” said Kejriwal on Friday.
He added, “We have not received the vaccines yet, we are in constant touch with the company. We are hopeful that vaccines will reach by tomorrow or the day after. They have assured us. Three lakh doses of Covishield is coming to us first, tomorrow or the day after.”
The Delhi government has ordered 67 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine, three lakh of which will be delivered by May 3.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said the state will start inoculation of those in the 18-45 age group against Covid-19 “as and when” vaccine doses are available.
Sawant said the Goa government has placed an order of five lakh doses with the Serum Institute of India for the Covishield vaccine. “Vaccination for the 18-45 age group will progress as and when we receive the doses,” he said in a statement.
The vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group would not start on May 1 in Madhya Pradesh as the vaccine manufacturers will not be able to supply enough vaccine doses in time, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Thursday. The ongoing vaccination of people in the above-45 category will continue, Chouhan added.
West Bengal has asked the Centre to supply at least three crore doses of the vaccines for state-run and private hospitals to continue with the vaccination drive and also open up jabs for the 18+ group.
Bengal has said two crore vaccine doses would be required to inoculate about one crore people in the 18-45 age bracket through government medical facilities and the rest for vaccinating 50 lakh beneficiaries who would visit private hospitals.
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu has said the vaccination drive for all above 18 years in the state may get delayed as there are not enough doses of the Covid vaccine. “We are not getting adequate doses of vaccines. That is why we are facing problems. We have staff and required infrastructure for vaccination,” Sidhu told reporters.
Asked whether Punjab health authorities will be able to start the vaccination drive for the 18 plus age group from May 1, the minister said, “I feel that we may not start by that time.”
Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajender has said the Central government should provide vaccine to the state for free. “It’s their responsibility. We are in touch with Bharat Biotech and SII, but have not heard from them. We have a vaccination capacity of 10 lakh per day. Once we get the schedule from companies we will have clarity,” said Rajender.
A senior official of the Telangana health department told PTI, “We are in touch with the manufacturers also. We are in search of the vaccine. We require around four crore doses.”
Chances of vaccination for the 18+ age group in Jharkhand is unlikely to begin on May 1. Jharkhand government has placed an order of 25 lakh Covid vaccines each with SII and Bharat Biotech. However, the vaccine doses are yet to be delivered to Jharkhand.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has clearly said that the Covid-19 vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group in the state will start latest by May 15 instead and not May 1 as ordered by the Centre.
Gujarat government has said that the process to vaccinate people of this age group will begin once it gets a substantial number of vaccines from the vaccine makers.
The UP health minister has said there is no vaccine stocks available in Uttar Pradesh. The minister said, “Global tender has been issued for the vaccine but there is no response yet. Orders of 50 lakh doses have been made to each of the two vaccine manufacturers, but we have not received anything yet. The current stock of vaccines is only available for the 45+ group, which is for the second dose.”