Need 26 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses for Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said Delhi’s current stock of vaccines against coronavirus will last only five to six days, and urged the central government and manufacturers to expedite the supply of doses so that every adult in the national capital can be inoculated within three months.
Giving a breakdown of figures, Kejriwal said Delhi has received 4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far and it requires at least 26 million more doses to inoculate its entire adult population of around 15 million in the next three months. Out of these, nearly 20 million doses will be needed for the around 10 million people in the age group of 18-44 in Delhi.
“Today a major obstacle we are facing is that of vaccine scarcity. If we get adequate doses, we will be able to vaccinate the entire Delhi in three months,” the CM said at a digital news briefing.
Delhi is currently in the grip of its fourth and worst wave of Covid-19 infections that has overwhelmed the city’s health care infrastructure, leaving people to scramble for hospital beds and crucial medical supplies such as liquid oxygen and life-saving drugs in recent weeks.
Also read | SC task force to audit oxygen usage nationwide
On Saturday, Delhi added 17,364 cases and 332 deaths.
Amid this public health crisis, the eligibility for India’s vaccination drive, which began on January 16, was expanded to cover all adults under phase 3 from May 1. However, most states said they were not able to purchase shots for the 18-44 age group and won’t be able to kick off the third phase of the drive on time.
In this phase, the central government is supposed to provide vaccines to states/UTs for inoculating people aged 45 and above. For younger adults in the 18-44 age group, state governments and private hospitals directly procure shots from vaccine makers.
While some private hospitals in Delhi began vaccinations for younger adults from May 1, the Delhi government only started doing so from May 3.
While the Delhi government is in the process of increasing the number of schools -- which are presently being used as vaccination centres for younger adults -- from 100 to about 300, Kejriwal said scaling up Delhi’s capacity will still not be possible if the city does not get around 8 to 8.5 million vaccine doses every month.
“Delhi’s population is 2 crore. About 1 crore people are in the age group of 18-45, approximately 50 lakh are under 18, and another 50 lakh are older than 45. So, those above 18 years are roughly 1.5 crore. These 1.5 crore people have to be given 3 crore vaccines, which is our requirement. From these 3 crore vaccines, the Delhi government, as of now, has received approximately 40 lakh vaccines. Therefore, we need 2 crore 60 lakh additional vaccines,” he said.
Also read | Delhi records slight dip in daily Covid-19 cases
The chief minister further said this is the minimum number of doses that Delhi needs and the actual requirement is likely to be higher because many people from the neighbouring cities and towns of Noida, Ghaziabad, Sonepat, Faridabad and Gurugram are also coming to the Capital to take the jab.
“In fact, more doses will be required since people from the NCR and other neighbouring areas are coming to Delhi to get vaccinated. But the minimum requirement of Delhi must be met with. Thus, I appeal to the central government that sufficient vaccines be made available to us,” he added.
As per government data at 10am on Saturday, Delhi had a stock of 771,860 doses of vaccines, out of which 339,080 doses are those procured by the city administration for those between 18-44 years and 432,780 are from the central government, meant for those 45 years old and above.
On average, for the last seven days, the city has been administering 63,511 shots per day, according to the daily health bulletin.
With the current stock remaining as is without getting replenished and the same rate of daily vaccinations, the Delhi government will run out of shots 12 days from Saturday: May 20.
Delhi government officials, however, said on condition of anonymity that they expect to receive vaccines from manufacturers and the Centre soon as orders have already been placed. The officials did not give details about the timeline or number of vaccines they are likely to receive.
Around 79,800 recipients were administered the jab on Friday, according to the government’s health bulletin issued on Saturday. Later in the evening, government officials updated the figure to 114,657.
Overall, 3,746,494 “cumulative beneficiaries” had been vaccinated in the city, the bulletin said.
“To vaccinate every adult in three months, we have to administer 80-85 lakh vaccines every month. It means we need to administer 3 lakh vaccines daily. Today, we are already administering 1 lakh vaccines in 100 schools (and other centres). This will be increased to 300 schools. So, we can easily increase our capacity to 3 lakh vaccines per day. But in the end, it will all depend on how much and how quickly vaccines are delivered to us,” Kejriwal said.
Delhi has enlisted schools, which are closed down due to the pandemic, to inoculate younger adults, while government-run medical facilities are for the older age groups.
Watch | Blood clots in Covid patients: Top doctor decodes early signs & prevention
On Saturday, the vaccination drive at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital, run by the central government, was delayed by an hour in the morning “due to shortage of vials”, according to the hospital spokesperson Smriti Tiwari.
The hospital is a vaccination centre only for those who are 45 years and above. A senior doctor, who did not want to be named, said, “The vaccine doses are distributed by the district officials. There were no leftover vaccines in the hospital today and there was a delay in getting the vials from the administration.”
The hospital has a capacity to store vaccines for a couple of days.
Several other states too have brought up the issue of limited vaccine supplies. The Maharashtra government, which is also facing the issue, said earlier this week it is “constantly” following up with the Centre to provide vaccine doses for inoculating people aged 45 and above.
Kejriwal on Saturday also appealed to all experts and the Centre to arrange vaccines for those below 18 years of age.
”We are particularly concerned about children. Youngsters and children under 18 cannot get vaccinated right now. I appeal to all experts and the Centre to arrange a vaccine for them too so that they can also get inoculated,” he said.
To be sure, most vaccines against Covid-19 have only conducted clinical trials involving adults. Canada is the only country in the world to have approved the Pfizer-BioNtech’s Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents as young as 12. The US and Europe are expected to do so shortly.
Experts say the current lockdown and adherence of Covid-appropriate behaviour will slow the spread of the virus, but vaccinating entire populations is key to fighting the pandemic as a long-term measure.