Ahead of May 1 vaccination drive in India, 2 Cong states claim shortage of doses
With just six days to go for the third phase of the nationwide vaccination drive against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from May 1, when doses will be administered to all citizens above the age of 18, two states Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have reported non-availability of the doses. Both the states are worst hit by the pandemic and are adding the most number of Covid-19 cases towards India’s daily tally.
Rajasthan, which claims it is leading the vaccination programme in the country, said it will face difficulties during the third phase to inoculate as many people as possible. “Ahead of vaccination for those above 18 years of age from May 1, when we spoke to the Serum Institute, we were told by them it may take till May 15 to fulfill orders placed by the government of India (GoI) and they won’t be able to deliver vaccines to Rajasthan before it,” state health minister Raghu Sharma told news agency ANI on Sunday.
Sharma’s comments come after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on April 20 requested the Centre to ensure adequate availability of vaccines so that all above 18 can be inoculated as soon as possible. The health minister on that day claimed the state was only left with two days of vaccine stock and raised questions about the numbers of beneficiaries across India and the vaccine production capacity. He also alleged there is no supply of an adequate number of doses to the state. According to the Union health ministry’s dashboard, Rajasthan has so far vaccinated 12,207,892 people of which nearly 10. 3 million have received the first dose and the remaining 1,909,319 have been given both doses.
Chhattisgarh is one of the several states in the country which will be vaccinating people free of cost from May 1. However, state health minister Tribhuvaneshwar Saran Singh Deo told ANI on Sunday that vaccinations cannot be done if doses are not available and claimed the Congress-led state government has sites ready and the process can be completed in 30-40 days. Chhattisgarh has inoculated more than 5.32 million beneficiaries till now of which 4,721,481 have been administered the first dose and 602,963 have been given the first and the second dose.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday wrote a letter to Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan urging him to determine the minimum price of the vaccine so that all of India can avail the doses at the same rates. Baghel wrote in the letter that according to the information received by the state, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine is being supplied in India at the highest prices across the world, according to PTI. Baghel also alleged Serum Institute has increased the vaccine rates with a view to earning extra profits. Covishield will be sold at ₹400 per dose to states and ₹600 per dose to private hospitals, the Pune-based company has said.
In the letter, Baghel suggested the minimum prices should be decided by the Centre’s Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) and all states should be able to purchase doses as per their need after making payments to BPPI. This would ensure everyone gets a vaccine at the same rates.
(With agency inputs)