Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in India, at least six states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana, and Jharkhand – are facing coronavirus vaccine shortage.
Most of these states have already written to the Centre about the vaccine shortage. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday lashed out at Maharashtra and some other states, accusing them of trying to cover their "failures" in containing the pandemic by making "deplorable" attempts through "irresponsible" statements to distract attention and spreading panic among people.
In a strongly-worded statement, the minister rubbished the Maharashtra government's claim of shortage of vaccines as "utterly baseless", and said the "lackadaisical" attitude of the state government has "singularly bogged down" the entire country's efforts to fight the virus.
India is currently in its third phase of vaccination, where those above 45 years are eligible to get the shots. So far as many as 9,01,98,673 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country.
Here's which states are complaining about vaccine shortage:
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said the state is facing a COVID-19 vaccine shortage and demanded 40 lakh doses every week from the Centre.
Many inoculation centres in Maharashtra are being shut due to the shortage of coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, adding the state now has 14 lakh doses which would last just three days.
"We do not have enough vaccine doses at various vaccination centres, and people have to be sent back due to a shortage of doses," Tope said.
Staying short of blaming the Centre, the Minister said that the supply has to be speeded up. "Currently, we have 14 lakh vaccine doses which will get over in the next three days. We've urged for 40 lakh more vaccine doses per week. I'm not saying that the Center is not giving us vaccines but the speed of delivery of vaccines is slow," he said.
The Health Minister added that they are working on war footing to increase the number of beds in Pune, Mumbai, Nashik and other parts of the state. The state has also demanded the inclusion of people of age group 20-40 years into the vaccination process and they must be vaccinated on priority.
Odisha Health Minister, Naba Kisore Das has written to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan requesting the supply of at least 10 days stock (or 25 lakh doses) of Covishield vaccine to the state immediately for effective vaccination of the targeted population.
Das wrote, "Inviting a reference to the subject cited above, you will agree that in order to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential to step up vaccination of vulnerable person. Presently. Odisha is vaccinating about 2.5 lakh persons daily. Due to a shortage of vaccines, we have had to close nearly 700 vaccination centres in the State (out of over 1400 functional sites. only 755 could be mode active today). You will also appreciate that due to its diligent and meticulous management of a valuable vaccine resource, Odisha has achieved a negative vaccine wastage of -0.5 pc i.e a vaccine savings of 0.5 pc."
"As of 7 April (10.00 AM). we have stock of 5.34 lakh doses of Covishield in the State. With this stock, we will be able to continue the vaccination for the next two days. By 9th April, there will be a stock-out of Covishield vaccine in the entire State, This will adversely impact the timely administration of the second dose of vaccine as well as delay in vaccination of citizens (45 years and above). This matter has been raised repeatedly by the Additional Chief Secretary, Health Family Welfare Department, Government of Odisha with the Ministry of Health Family Welfare," read the letter.
"Therefore, I would like to draw your kind attention to this matter and request you to take the necessary steps for supplying at least 10 days of stock i.e. 25 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine to the State immediately for effective vaccination of the targeted population," the letter informed.
Indore in Madhya Pradesh has been facing a shortage of remdesivir injection used for treating coronavirus patients, with the authorities saying that as against the daily demand of 7,000 vials of the anti-viral drug in the district, they are getting less than half that number at present.
Talking to PTI, Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Abhay Bedekar said that scant supply of remdesivir injection by pharmaceutical companies has led to the problem.
"Currently, about 3,000 vials of remdesivir injections of different pharmaceutical companies are coming to Indore everyday, while its daily demand in the district is around 7,000 vials. So, only half the supply is being met as against the actual demand," he said.
Meanwhile, speaking during a programme here, District Collector Manish Singh said, "As a result of rising cases of coronavirus infection in (neighbouring states) Maharashtra and Gujarat, the availability of remdesivir and oxygen has dropped in Indore. We are trying to ensure sufficient availability of resources in the ongoing war against the pandemic."
In Andhra Pradesh, vaccine stocks will run out by Thursday, state’s commissioner (health and family welfare) Katamneni Bhaskar told The Economic Times. He added that the state has only 3.5 lakh vaccines left in their stock.
Telangana’s Health Minister Eatala Rajendra told The Economic Times that the state has vaccine stock that will be sufficient for the next three days. He further said that the state holds the capacity to vaccinate 1,000,000 people per day but due to shortage it is inoculating around 60,000-70,000 persons per day.
Dubbing as "unfortunate" Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's remarks that the Chhattisgarh government was spreading misinformation and panic on COVID-19 vaccination, his state counterpart T S Singh Deo on Wednesday said such remarks affect the joint efforts in the fight against pandemic.
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).
Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta said that the state is left with vaccine stock for 2 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," Banna Gupta said.
(With inputs from Agencies)