No vaccines for 18+ till month-end, 9 states tell Supreme Court
Vijay Verma

New Delhi: Almost one-third of the states have told the Supreme Court in their affidavits that they are unlikely to get their quota of Covid-19 vaccines for the 18-44 group from the manufacturers before May-end.

They categorically said the vaccine makers, Seerum Institute of India (SII), Pune, and Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad, have either expressed inability to supply the stock by May-end or said they will provide staggered delivery over the next 2-3 months.

These states are: Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Manipur. The affidavits were filed in the top court hearing a suo motu cognizance on the supply of essentials during the pandemic.

The affidavits would have come up in the hearing before a 3-judge Special Bench on Thursday but it was cancelled because of Justice Dhananjaya V Chandrachud, heading the Bench, is down with Covid positive symptoms and resting at home. It is now up to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana to either name Justice Chandrachud's replacement or direct the other two judges – Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat – to continue the hearing. Friday being a holiday on account of Eid, the hearing can be held latest only the next week.

A few states highlighted the shortage of vaccines they are facing while the state governments of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh voiced their concern over the Centre's vaccine pricing policy.

The state governments placed orders with the two vaccine makers after the Centre on April 19 told them to procure the vaccines directly from the producers to carry out the vaccination of those in the age group of 18-44 years while it will supply the vaccines to the state only for older people and the frontline workers.

While all 31 states and Union Territories have provided data of vaccination coverage in the first two phases, 17 have given details of the orders place for Covishield and Covaxin vaccines directly. The states are supposed to inoculate some 59 crore people falling in the category of 18-44 years, according to the affidavit filed by the Centre.

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