Uncertainty over supply dogs roll-out of jab drive
Even as the government on Wednesday opened up Covid-19 vaccination registrations for those aged between 18 and 44, and jabs scheduled to begin on Saturday, hospitals said they still have no clarity on who will supply the doses for the expanded inoculation drive, while just a few private hospitals in the city said they have been assured of supplies from either of the two vaccine manufacturers in India.
Adult beneficiaries in Delhi who were able to register on the CoWIN portal despite the glitches on Day 1 were, however, not able to find any available slots at any of sites.
Further, adding to the uncertainty, private hospitals and state officials said the Centre has asked them to return the current stock of vaccines on April 30.
“So far, there is no clarity on whether we will receive any more doses from the state government or if we will have to depend on the doses that we purchase ourselves. If it is the latter, we are likely to not have any doses on May 1 to vaccinate even those above 45 who need their second dose,” said an official from one of the major private hospitals in Delhi, asking not to be named.
Dr Suneela Garg member of the Lancet Commission Covid India Task force said, “Everything will not happen on Day 1. Delhi has placed an order of 13.4 million, but all the doses will not come together.”
Delhi on Monday announced that it will vaccinate its entire adult population for free once the immunisation drive is widened from May 1. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said a purchase of 13.4 million doses has been approved and that his government will make efforts to speed up the process.
An official from Fortis hospital said, “We might get some doses from the government at revised rates – whatever the state pays the vaccine manufacturers – after returning the old stock that came from the central government to immunise those above 45.”
The hospital in a statement said, “We are in discussions with vaccine manufacturers to understand the availability and are making all necessary preparations to launch vaccinations for 18+ age groups, as soon as vaccines are made available.”
Vibhu Talwar, managing director of Moolchand hospital said, “As of now, we do not have any procurement orders. Suppliers haven’t given us any clarity on pricing or when stock will be available. Hopefully, this will be clarified in the next 48 hours.” The hospital just has vaccine stocks for the next two days, officials said.
Government hospitals and district officials too are unsure about where the doses will come from and how they are to be distributed. “We haven’t received any communication about what to do with the vaccine doses or whether we will get any additional doses on May 1. We have vaccination centres ready at the hospital. We will immunise people whenever we get the doses,” said a senior administrator from Lok Nayak hospital.
A senior district official who asked not to be named said, “We will vaccinate people whenever we get the vaccine doses. But I’m unsure where the doses will come from.”
“Only 50% of the production will be picked up by the central government, and the rest is open for sale to states and private players. Nothing is going outside the country, so how can anyone say there will no supplies for states or anyone else,” said a central government official aware of the matter.