THD NewsDesk, New Delhi: The Second phase of the Vaccination procedure of Covid 19 to start from May 1 is very unlikely to happen. State governments would most possibly have to delay the process as Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have expressed their inability to supply jabs to them before the third week of the month.
Statewise scenarios look the following way:
- Chhattisgarh claims it has been told it will get vaccines only in July.
- Maharashtra will not be able to supply vaccines till May 20 said the health minister.
- Rajasthan to get doses only after May 15, told by the institutes.
- Jharkhand and Punjab will also not be able to start the drive from May 1.
The Centre earlier this month expanded the eligibility age for vaccinations to 18 years and above, to be serviced by state governments and private hospitals but it is an important question to ask how effectively will it be possible to execute in the country.
Odisha placed an order for over a million Covaxin and 37.7 million Covishield doses. Odisha National Health Mission director Shalini Pandit told ET there has been no communication from SII. Bharat Biotech has indicated it could supply doses in mid-May but not given exact timelines, she said.
Harsh Mahajan, president of Nathealth-Healthcare Federation of India said,
“Meetings have been held with the government to understand the impact of the changed vaccination system on the availability, purchase, pricing, supply chain and cold chain management and ultimate delivery of the vaccine in the arms of the citizens.”
Lalit Kant, a scientist and former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested tailoring the rollout on the basis of geography and disease spread.
“India should start vaccinating 18+ by prioritizing the districts. Those districts where positivity rate is above 15 should get it first, followed by those between 5 and 15. This would help ease the pressure on vaccine supplies. Otherwise, it would be an uphill task as it would mean lining up supplies for 60% of population.”
In a letter written by Additional Secretary, Manohar Aghani, says,
“50% of the vaccine supplies from the manufacturer are earmarked for Government of India supply. These vaccines will be supplied to States/UTs for existing prioritized beneficiaries only i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and persons aged 45 years.”
And moreover, he added,
“The remaining 50 per cent of the vaccine supplies from the manufacturer are earmarked for ‘Other than Government of India channel’ which can be used by State/UT government, Private Hospitals and Hospitals of Industrial establishments to vaccinate persons aged 18-44 years or any sub-group within this age bracket as per the decision of State/UT government from May 1, 2021.”
Three days before the next phase of vaccination starts the government is low on supplies as the central quota has almost gotten over and the states are running low on the limit too.
Private hospitals are also in a state of turmoil as they have been asked to return the vaccine supply by the month end and they are not sure either the money would come back from the state governments or central government as they have made advance payments.
A Delhi hospital official said,
“We got the initial vaccine stocks from the Delhi government. When we purchased, they charged in advance. We don’t know whether this is to be returned to the Centre or the state government, and whether we will get our money back.”
According to health ministry sources, supplies to state governments are getting delayed because vaccine makers are first fulfilling the orders placed by the Centre. Vaccine companies’ officials say it will take them at least three weeks to sort out distribution.
The ramping up of the production will compromise a lot of things. This has been asked by Arup Mitra, professor of economics at Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, who questioned the move to expand the vaccination criteria at a time of shortage. He said,
“Private sector, manipulators and people seeking monetary benefits will all combine to create complete chaos. It is quite likely that those who will be able to pay more will get access. The common man will have to wait longer. It will not be surprising if the quality of the vaccine may be compromised. Mismanagement of demand and supply is very much on the cards.”
The citizens of the country are in a complete and total state of disillusionment with the centre who is still holding on to the notion that there is no vaccine shortage in the country.
In a statement it said,
“At least 15 crore (150 million) Covid-19 vaccines were given to states free of cost since the drive began and at least 10 million are still available with the States. Approximately 8 million doses are in the pipeline to be provided to them in the next 3 days.”
Moreover, it added,
“Government of India has so far provided more than 15 crore vaccine doses (156,526,140) to States/UTs Free of Cost. Of this, the total consumption including wastages is 146,478,983 dose.”
Besides the states mentioned above, reports are coming that there is also a shortage for the second dose in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The second wave of this deadly pandemic has hit the country very hard, putting it into the worst position in the world. Different nations have come forward to give a lending hand to fight the wave but the question is are we ourselves ready to go through this fight? Would there be any lives left to save by the time the vaccines are made available at a mass scale to the whole country?