Vaccine shortage stalls K’taka drive

ByHT Correspondent
May 01, 2021 12:26 AM IST

Bengaluru Vaccination for people above 18 years of age will not take place from Saturday in Karnataka as the state was yet to receive jabs, health minister K Sudhakar said on Friday


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Vaccination for people above 18 years of age will not take place from Saturday in Karnataka as the state was yet to receive jabs, health minister K Sudhakar said on Friday.

“The official news is that they (Serum Institute of India) are still not prepared to give it (Covishield) to us from tomorrow as it was scheduled. That is why we are requesting the people of Karnataka, those who are above 18 years and up to 44 years, to refrain from going to hospitals thinking that you will be vaccinated tomorrow,” the minister told reporters on Friday.

Chief minister BS Yediyurappa also said that the vaccination drive will be delayed. “Our Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar has said clearly that the vaccine has not been supplied yet. We will vaccinate people once it arrives,” Yediyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru on Friday.

The statement came a day before the scheduled commencement of vaccination for 18-44 age group, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Karnataka was quick to order 10 million doses of Covishield from Pune-based Serum Institute of India, valued at 400 crore.

Karnataka reported its highest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases with 48,296 new infections reported on Friday, which takes the state’s active case count to 382,690. Positivity rate also touched a new high with 25.44%, according to the daily bulletin of the state health department. Bengaluru, the worst hit district in the state, accounted for 26,756 new cases, taking its active case count to 259,058. Bengaluru also accounted for 93 out of the 217 fatalities reported in a day.

Karnataka, like other states in the country, is depended on vaccination to reduce the severity of the Covid-19 infection, which would mean that though the infection was likely to spread, the number of persons requiring hospitalisation would be reduced.

While Karnataka continues to be among the top five states in terms of absolute number of vaccinations, data shows that most of it comprises of only those who have been administered the first dose. In Bengaluru, little over 10% of its population, of around 12 million, has been vaccinated so far. Bengaluru has so far administered around 1,767,490 doses (first and second combined).

According to government data, out of the 9,363,124 vaccinations so far, the first dose accounts for 8,050,816 while the second dose accounts for just 1,530,866.

The BS Yediyurappa-led state government relapsed into announcing lockdown-like restrictions across the state and its capital, Bengaluru, as a measure to contain the surge of Covid-19 cases and ease the pressure on its already overflowing hospitals and crematoriums. The 14-day restrictions that came into force from Tuesday night, has barely had any impact on the surge, data shows.

Experts said the reason for the surge despite the lockdown-like restrictions is because people were already infected and now are forced to stay home and isolate themselves, increasing the risk of spreading it to others in the family or close circles.

“The reason a lockdown was necessary was because you have to reduce the quantum of cases to a level which the health systems can manage. Currently, there is severe strain on the health system that has to be reduced,” Giridhara R Babu, epidemiologist and professor at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) had told Hindustan Times. Most of Bengaluru’s hospitals are overflowing with patients and hundreds waiting outside in the hope of admissions. The lines outside crematoriums have also increased exponentially as the government scrambles to allot open spaces to cremate bodies. The waiting times at crematoriums have gone up to over 16 hours or more and families continue to expose themselves to the risk of contracting the virus while bidding farewell to their loved ones.

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