Bharat Biotech said it can’t provide 6.7mn Covaxin doses to Delhi: Sisodia
The Delhi government on Wednesday said Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech has expressed its inability to send additional supplies of Covaxin doses to the national Capital, forcing the city administration to shut more than 100 vaccination centres in about 17 schools meant for those between 18 and 44 years.
“Delhi had sought 13.4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate every adult in the city. Of this, we sought 6.7 million doses each of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Covishield from Serum Institute of India for Covishield. Yesterday (May 11), the Covaxin manufacturer sent us a letter stating clearly that it will not be able to send vaccine doses to us. As on date, we have zero stock of Covaxin and only those centres having Covishield doses are open for vaccination,” he said during a digital press conference.
The letter shared by Sisodia was sent by Dr Kirshna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech to Delhi’s principal secretary (health) and it was in response to a letter written by the Delhi government to the company on May 7.
“We appreciate your interest in procuring large quantities of Covaxin for the vaccination program. However, there has been an unprecedented demand for our vaccine and in spite of increasing production every month, we are unable to keep up with the demand. Further, we are making dispatches as per the directives of the concerned government officials. We, therefore, sincerely regret that we cannot make any additional supplies as required by you,” read Bharat Biotech’s letter dated May 11.
HT has asked the Delhi government for the letter it sent to the company on May 7 to understand the quantum of Covaxin doses demanded by the Capital. A reply from the administration is awaited.
Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s nodal minister for Covid-19, criticised the Central government for regulating vaccine supplies to states even after liberalising and decentralising the country’s vaccine procurement policy.
“Bharat Biotech’s letter clearly indicates that the Central government is deciding which state should get how much stock of vaccines. It is the Centre which introduced the policy of letting every state government procure doses directly from the manufacturers. Then why is the Central government controlling even the stocks that state governments are directly procuring from the manufacturers? From exporting vaccines to controlling supplies to states, the Centre is regulating everything,” he said.
The deputy chief minister said had the Centre not exported 65 million doses of vaccines, it could have vaccinated the entire population of Mumbai and Delhi together with both doses for every person.
Sisodia placed four demands before the Central government: temporarily suspending all exports of Covid-19 vaccines; rope in more pharmaceutical companies to scale up vaccine production; float a global tender for vaccine procurement and give it to states; and directing states to inoculate every person in three months.
“I appeal to the Centre to immediately stop export of Covid-19 vaccines and engage more pharmaceutical companies to ramp up vaccine production or else people will continue to die in the potential third and fourth waves. The Centre should understand the gravity of the pandemic in the country and play the role of the national government. Instead of asking states to fight for vaccines in the international market, the Centre should buy these globally and give them to the states after which it should direct every state government to complete vaccination in three months,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Delhi government had said it received 150,000 doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech for those between 18-44 years and the entire stock is now over because of which nearly 125 session sites across 17 schools have been shut.
“So far, we received around 550,000 vaccine doses – 150,000 Covaxin and 400,000 Covishield – for the 18-44 age group. Of the total doses received, 330,000 doses have been used. Currently, we have around 219,000 doses in stock and all of them are Covishield. Going by the current rate of beneficiary turnout, the Covishield stock should last three more days. Also, 266,690 doses of Covishield are likely to arrive in Delhi and that should last for another six days,” said AAP MLA Atishi in the government’s live-streamed bulletin on vaccination on Tuesday.