The Union health ministry on Friday said the reports stating that the Maharashtra government has been unable to increase its pace of coronavirus inoculation due to a shortage of vaccines were “factually incorrect”.
The ministry’s statement came a day after the Maharashtra government asked for extra vaccines during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual meeting with all chief ministers to assess India’s coronavirus situation, reported The Indian Express.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope participated in the conference, but he was not allowed to speak.
“We demanded the 40 lakh doses of Covaxin and 50 lakh doses of Covishield,” Tope told reporters after the meeting. “Covaxin is required for the vaccination for the 15-18 age group and Covishield for people over 60 years of age and the frontline workers.”
In its statement, the health ministry said that Maharashtra has over 24 lakh unused Covaxin doses available with it.
“As per their weekly consumption data available on Co-WIN, the average consumption by Maharashtra for Covaxin to cover the eligible beneficiaries for 15-17 years and for precaution dose is almost 2.94 lakh doses per day,” it said. “Therefore, the state has adequate vaccine doses for about 10 days to cover the eligible beneficiaries with Covaxin.”
On Covishield, the ministry said that the state has 1.24 crore unutilised shots. “With an average consumption of 3.57 lakhs per day, this will sustain for more than 30 days for the beneficiaries to be vaccinated using the vaccine,” it said.
The ministry added: “Hence, the media reports are not factually correct and do not reflect the correct picture of the available stock of balance and unutilised Covid-19 vaccine doses with Maharashtra.”
Make vaccination compulsory: Rajesh Tope
On Thursday, the health minister also said that the Maharashtra government has asked the Centre to make vaccination compulsory for all eligible people, the Hindustan Times reported. Currently, the Covid-19 vaccination is voluntary in India.
“There is vaccine hesitancy among the people either due to misconceptions or resistance to the jab causing a drop in the rate of vaccination,” Tope said. “We have requested the Centre to make the vaccination mandatory.”
The Maharashtra health minister also urged the Centre to keep a tab on the rapid antigen Covid-19 tests performed at home. He said that the pharmacies must keep sales records of the test kits.
“Due to the absence of any record of at-home Covid-19 tests, the actual number of cases go unaccounted,” Tope said. “In Maharashtra, we have started monitoring self-tests done at home by directing health officers to be in touch with pharmacies.”