Maharashtra is down to its last 12 lakh doses of Covid vaccines and it is feared that several districts may run out of Covid-19 vaccines in the next three days. The state government has sent out an SOS to the Centre, asking that its supply be replenished at the earliest or else the vaccination drive in the state will come to a halt. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said they had received 1.2 crore doses so far, of which 90 lakh had been used, with 4.6 lakh beneficiaries being vaccinated daily.
The civic body too is down to just one lakh doses, with Covaxin being entirely out of stock and beneficiaries requesting this vaccine are being turned away. Meanwhile, the state government is planning to write the Centre, seeking permission to start vaccinating 18-plus years of age.
Tope said the government was making vigorous efforts to procure adequate vaccine stocks for the city and the rest of the state. Since the last few days, the state has been vaccinating about four lakh people daily. Nearly 82 lakh people have been vaccinated so far in Maharashtra since the rollout of the inoculation drive, of which 14.50 lakh are from Mumbai.
“Many inoculation centres in Maharashtra are being shut due to vaccine shortage. The state now has 12 lakh doses, which will only last for three days. We have written to the Centre to provide more vaccines so that the momentum gained by the vaccination drive is not lost,” he said.
In the meanwhile, there was a dose of tongue-lashing from Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for Maharashtra and other states. He alleged these states were trying to cover up their ‘failures’ and spreading panic among people by demanding vaccination for all without first having inoculated enough of eligible beneficiaries.
He further said statements made by public representatives in Maharashtra about the shortage of vaccines were “nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government's repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic”.
Asserting that allegations of a vaccine shortage were utterly baseless, Vardhan said Maharashtra’s "testing is not up to the mark and their contact tracing leaves a lot to be desired”.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had, on Monday, written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations for those above 25 years of age, as inoculating a bigger number of the young and working population could reduce the intensity of the virus spread.
Now, the state government plans to write to Centre seeking permission to allow all above 18 years to be eligible for the vaccine, so that they can be protected from the rapidly spreading infection even as they step outside their homes to earn a livelihood.
Meanwhile, in the city, Mayor Kishori Pednekar claimed that a shortage of vaccines had arisen at a time when Covid cases continued to surge and this would detract senior citizens who had been so far enthusiastic in their response when the immunisation drive was opened to them.
“We had 1.76 lakh doses of Covishield, the mainstay of the vaccination drive, till Tuesday afternoon and this number could have gone down by now. Currently, Covid vaccines are being administered at 108 facilities in the city and at some sites, like jumbo care centres, around 2,000 doses are being given per day,” she said.