Days before the government expands the vaccination drive for those above 18 years of age, 4 Opposition-ruled states on Sunday said that they would not be able to begin the vaccination drive on May 1 because of a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses. The four states,w which said that they would not be able to start the next phase of India's vaccination drive against COVID-19 are Rajasthan, Punjab, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
As per a report shared by The Indian Express, the Rajasthan government has said that it has been told by the Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures Covishield, that it would not be able to supply doses before May 15. Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma reportedly said, "We were told to speak to Serum Institute. Their feedback was that the orders that they have got from the central government…they will need time till May 15 to supply those orders. So they are not in a position to give the vaccine to us.”
Asking that if the states want to procure vaccines directly, what is the process, the Rajasthan Health Minister said that the question before us is that we have 3.13 crore people in the age group of 18-45 and how to vaccinate all of them. Raghu Sharma in a press conference with his counterparts from Chhattisgarh, Punjab, and Jharkhand, also said that the central government should tell Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech that they should supply “this much number of doses” to the states.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo and Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu seemed to also agree with Rahu Sharma. As per reports, Deo was quoted saying that he had heard that Assam had tried to place orders for COVID-19 vaccines, but was told that they would get the same after a month.
The states’ ministers said that they are prepared for the next phase of vaccination from May 1 but the manufacturers had expressed an inability to provide the doses. Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta reportedly said, “We want to vaccinate, but will we make vaccines in our homes?” The report also said that Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had directed the Health Department to order 30 lakh Covishield doses for vaccination of the 18-45 age group. But, the delivery of vaccines for the 18-45 age group is not expected before May 15. These four states also accused the central government of discrimination in supplying oxygen and the antiviral drug Remdesivir, used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
As the world continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, India so far has recorded over 1,69,60,172 positive cases, out of which, 1,40,85,110 have successfully recovered and 1,92,311 have died. As per the latest reports from MoHFW, in the past 24 hours, 3,49,691 new cases, 2,17,113 fresh recoveries and 2,767 deaths have been reported. Currently, the total number of active cases across the country is 12,9811.