The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Thursday told Bombay High Court that it will start door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination for elderly and bedridden citizens only after the Centre frames policy on the same.
Yesterday, the HC had asked the BMC to spell out if it would conduct the door-to-door drive, if so, then the court would permit the civic body to proceed despite the Union's opposition.
The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni had also slammed the Union government for dragging its feet over allowing door-to-door vaccination drive for senior citizens, differently-abled and bedridden persons.
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Dhruti Kapadia seeking directives to the authorities to allow door-to-door inoculation drives for the elderly and bedridden citizens.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, Maharashtra on May 20 crossed the 2.04 crore mark.
As per the data released by the health ministry, Maharashtra, as of 7 am on May 20, inoculated 2,00,41,648 people.
Maharashtra tops the states with a total of 2,00,41,648 inoculations followed by Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh with 1,54,78,846, 1,53,89,991 and 1,48,65,594 doses respectively.
Amid uncertainty over the availability of supply of vaccines, the Maharashtra Government has floated an expression of interest for the procurement of 5 crore COVID 19 vaccine doses.
The Public Health Department officer clarified it is not a tender but an EoI to know the stock, price, supply schedule from global vaccine producers approved by the World Health Organisation and United States Food and Drug Administration.
The government's move came a day after the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation was forced to extend the time limit by a week for lack of response for its tender for the supply of 1 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses.
In the wake of clarity, the state government expects the suppliers to get the necessary approvals to supply vaccine doses to Maharashtra. Further, the EoI is silent on the indemnity clause demanded by Pfizer and Moderna to avoid any claims. Besides, there has been no mention of the source of the stock and its supply, the transportation cost, duties and other levies.
The officer told Free Press Journal," The government is exploring options of procurement of vaccine doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Zydus, Cadila among others."
As reported by Free Press Journal, the storage of these vaccine doses will be an issue as Pfizer and Moderna need minus 70 degree Celsius which won't be possible in remote areas. The state government can at best has a cold chain of minus 17 to 20 degree Celsius. The logistics are another issue for the timely supply.
Moreover, the price is a key issue that needs to be looked into as Covishield will be available at Rs 300 per dose and Covaxin at Rs 400 per dose to the state government to vaccinate people below 45 years. The state government is getting free doses for the vaccination of citizens above 45 plus.
"The government will have to seriously consider the price if quoted above the prices of Covishield and Covaxin. This apart, the government will carefully study the supply schedule to avoid any disruption. The suppliers will have to fulfil the commitment in the given time as they should not divert the supply to private procures if they offer a higher price," the officer said.
The government's move to issue EoI came when it was forced to suspend the vaccination for the age group of 18-44 years for the want of sufficient vaccine doses. The government has yet to formally receive a supply schedule from Serum India Institute and Bharat Biotech.