Maharashtra’s stock of vaccine doses to last three more days
Maharashtra is facing a shortage of Covid-19 vaccine doses and had to shut down several vaccination centres. It has already requested the Centre to provide adequate stock as it has set a target of inoculating 600,000 beneficiaries a day, said Rajesh Tope, state health minister, on Wednesday.
The state is left with 1,400,000 vaccine doses, which will last only three days. It has demanded a stock of four million doses a week from the Centre.
Maharashtra tops the chart in vaccinating maximum beneficiaries across the country. Currently, it is covering 450,000 beneficiaries a day and the health minister guaranteed that it will cross the 600,000 mark in the next two-three days, provided it gets adequate stock from the Centre.
Tope urged the Centre to prioritise Maharashtra and if required, delay stock supplies to other states as it is the most affected state in the country. The demand to the Centre was made in a video conference meeting chaired by the union minister of health and family welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan. Tope attended the meeting along with the health minister from six other states on Tuesday evening.
“Union minister Prakash Javadekar had asked us to double the vaccination numbers and had assured to provide adequate stock. We accepted it as a challenge and increased the daily vaccination to 450,000 from 300,000. However, we have started facing shortage of vaccine stock and have to shut down many centres across the state as there is no stock left there,” the health minister told reporters later.
“We have a stock of 1,400,000 vaccines left, which means the state has a stock of three days only and then vaccination would be stopped if fresh stock is not provided. We need a stock of at least 4,000,000 vaccines per week. As health minister of Maharashtra, I can guarantee we will achieve the target of inoculating 600,000 beneficiaries in the next 2-3 days as we have planned mobilization of the resources in that manner,” Tope added.
“Vaccination is the most effective measure to control the pandemic at present,” the health minister said, urging the Centre to provide adequate stock and if needed, delay supplies of the stock in other states as the daily cases have breached the 50,000 mark in Maharashtra.
He avoided making any allegations of bias against the Centre, but pointed out that there is a difference between what they say and what they do, when it comes to handling the Covid-19 pandemic. “I don’t believe the central government doesn’t want to provide vaccine stock as they have been doing it regularly, but the pace is slow. Dr Harsh Vardhan (union health minister) is a very soft spoken and helpful minister and urged him to give more attention towards Maharashtra,” he commented.
Responding to the remarks, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the state government is expected to discuss the issue with the Centre, instead of disclosing them before the media. He stressed that Maharashtra is getting maximum stock of vaccine from the Centre, compared to other states.
“The state government should discuss issues with the Centre instead of running away from the situation by speaking about issues in the media. The state government asks the opposition party (Bharatiya Janata Party) not to bring in politics in handling Covid-19 pandemic but its ministers and the chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) do the same,” Fadnavis told reporters.
He said that the state is getting enough stock for the target group on a regular basis for vaccination. “Sometimes it happens that the stock is left for a few days but then fresh stock arrives from the Centre as supplies are going across the states,” Fadnavis clarified.
To increase vaccine production, the state owned Haffkine Institute has already sought permission from the Centre for transfer of technology from Bharat Biotech that has developed Covid-19 vaccine — ‘Covaxin’. It has also sought permission for fill and finish operations of Covid vaccine in which Haffkine Institute will only fill vaccines in bottles and make them ready as a product.
Haffkine is a public sector undertaking owned by the state government and has developed a number of vaccines that include anti-rabies serum, anti-venom serum, oral polio vaccine etc.