India is unlikely to meet the target of vaccinating its entire adult population against Covid-19 by December 31, the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday, reported The Indian Express.
The court made the observations in response to a petition filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra pertaining to the pandemic situation in the national capital.
“God knows whether we will achieve our target of December 31 that we have set,” a division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said. “Looks like we are not. Just yesterday, it was in the press that we need to vaccinate 90 lakh people a day to be able to achieve that. How will we achieve that? We don’t have that kind of infrastructure. We don’t have that kind of vaccination. So obviously we are not going to meet it. Let’s face it.”
India completed 200 days of its Covid-19 vaccination drive on August 3. On August 4, a total of 37,45,862 people were administered vaccines. This was a drop of 42.8% as compared to the previous day, Financial Express reported.
A total of 10,295,389 people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus till Tuesday in Delhi, the Hindustan Times reported.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed on July 31 that the city has the capacity to administer 3 lakh doses every day. However, only 50,000 to 80,000 doses are being administered to beneficiaries due to shortages of vaccines.
During Thursday’s hearing, the judges also asked the Centre to create a buffer stock of medical oxygen, stating that this was “like insurance”, reported Live Law. “Today if you look at the situation, it seems fine,” the bench said. “But if you look at what happened between March and May? There is no escape from this.”
Between April and May, several states including Delhi, witnessed a tsunami of Covid-19 infections. Reports flooded the media of patients running from pillar to post in search of hospital beds and oxygen cylinders as several hospitals reported shortages. Some hospitals in the national capital even approached the courts for help as their oxygen supplies ran out.
Lawyer Raj Shekhar Rao, assisting the court as amicus curiae, said that it was not clear whether a buffer stock of oxygen exists in Delhi, and to what extent.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, said the national capital had a buffer stock of around 420 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen stored in different places, with suppliers outside Delhi. By August 31, the Delhi government will transfer this stock to Delhi, Mehra added.
The judges also sought to know why free distribution of vaccines has not been included under Corporate Social Responsibility. “Pharmaceuticals, hospitals giving free vaccines should be given benefit under CSR,” Justice Sanghi said. “Let’s say Tata Steel wants to provide CSR by doing free vaccination in Jamshedpur. Why should that not be CSR?”
The Centre, however, said that there was a major possibility of abuse in allowing people to engage in CSR activities in their normal course of business.