Lucknow: After Maharashtra placed orders for Russia's Sputnik vaccine, the Uttar Pradesh government has also decided to float a global tender to buy 4 crore covid-19 vaccine vials from global manufacturers for arranging shots required for the third phase of vaccination for the 18-44 age group, beginning May 1.
The Yogi Adityanath-led government has already placed an order with Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India for supply of 50 lakh each Covaxin and Covishield. But the state is yet to get the supplies from Indian manufacturers casting doubts over the launch of the third phase drive from May 1.
Amid uncertainty over the availability of a large number of Indian vaccine doses required for the massive upcoming third phase, the state government has decided to import vaccines.
A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting of the Suresh Khanna Committee, set up to draft a plan for making the third phase vaccination drive successful.
“We have taken a decision to float a global tender for importing at least 4 crore vaccines from global manufacturers to meet the state's requirement,” said Dr Siddharth Nath Singh, the Cabinet minister for MSME and a government spokesman.
The tenders are likely to be floated in a day or two. Global vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Moderna, Jhonson and Jhonson, Russia’s Sputnik are likely to participate in the tender.
A senior health department official claimed that the third phase of vaccination drive is unlikely to start from May 1 as they have not received supply of 1 crore vaccines ordered by the state government.
“Even if we get supplies by Friday, dispatching them to vaccination centres using cold chain will not be possible,” he pointed out.
He, however, said that the only way to launch the drive from May 1 for the 18-44 age group will be to seek permission from the Central government to use its quota of vaccines meant for the above 45 years of age.
While the registration process was opened for the 18-44 age group from Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh is among other states which do not have vaccine vials to launch the drive from May 1.
Uttar Pradesh has the largest population of people falling into the 18-44 age group category and as per a rough estimate it will require at least 7 to 8 crore vaccine shots over a period of time to make the drive successful.
The largest populated state lags behind Maharashtra in first and second phases of vaccination drives. Till date, only 1.2 crore people have so far been vaccinated. Out of the total number, only 21,13,088 have taken the second dose.
“There is utter confusion. People are making frantic calls to enquire about on the spot registration facility after failing to get their appointment scheduled online,” said Dr A. Raman, whose private hospital was made a vaccination centre by the state government.