Maharashtra is likely to run short of coronavirus vaccines in three days, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope told NDTV on Wednesday. He added that the state had asked the Centre for more stock.
“Stocks of vaccine in the state remain only for three days,” said Tope. “We have requested the Centre to send more vaccine. This in the state with the highest number of cases coming everyday. In Mumbai also stocks only remain for three days.”
“We need 40 lakh vaccine doses every week,” Tope said, while speaking to reporters, according to PTI. “We can then administer six lakh doses every day in a week. The doses we are getting are not enough.”
Tope said he apprised Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan about the situation on a video call on Tuesday. “We don’t have doses in most of our vaccination centres and they had to shut down,” Tope had told Vardhan, according to NDTV. “They are sending people back because of lack of doses. I have been asking you to supply vaccine to us.”
Tope said the state government was earlier vaccinating four lakh people in a day and expedited the process by looking to give the shot to six lakh people, as per the Centre’s advice. “Now, we are vaccinating nearly 5 lakh people in a day,” he said. He also urged the Centre to prioritise Maharashtra on vaccine supply as there were more coronavirus cases in the state and the toll was over 50,000.
Tope added that they suspect there was a new strain of the virus that is infecting people faster. “Samples have been sent to National Centre for Disease Control to ascertain this,” he told ANI.
Mumbai’s civic body also said that the vaccines were “about to get over”. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said Tope has spoken to the Centre about it.
“We are giving most of the doses to government hospitals,” said Pednekar. “We only have one lakh plus Covishield doses left. There is a bit of a shortage. The Centre needs to give us more stocks as soon as possible or it will be difficult to administer second doses.”
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Maharashtra Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas said the Centre was aware of the situation, reported PTI. “Many districts will run out of the stock today or tomorrow,” he added. Vyas said Maharashtra could easily administer five lakh vaccine doses in a day. Till now, the state has vaccinated nearly 82 lakh people.
Maharashtra on Tuesday said it has received 1.06 crore doses of the Covid vaccines, of which 88 lakh doses had been used and 3% had been wasted. As of Wednesday morning, Maharashtra has around 14 lakh vaccine doses in stock, according to a state health official.
Maharashtra is the worst-hit state as India grapples with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Mumbai on Tuesday alone reported 10,030 new coronavirus cases, taking its total count to 4,72,332. This is the second-highest daily count so far. The city had recorded 11,163 Covid-19 infections on April 4. Maharashtra recorded 55,469 new coronavirus cases and 297 deaths on Tuesday. The infection tally climbed to 31,13,354 and the toll went up to 56,330. As many as 34,256 recovered from the infection on Tuesday, taking the tally to 25,83,331. There are 4,72,283 active cases in the state.
Amid the surge in cases, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had on Monday urged the Centre to relax the age criteria for vaccination. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also requested the Centre to allow the inoculation of all citizens above 18.
However, the government on Tuesday refused to open up vaccinations for all, saying that the aim was to cover the people who are the most vulnerable at the earliest. “The aim is never to vaccinate whoever wants, but always on whoever needs,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India, said that his company’s existing capacity to manufacture coronavirus vaccine Covishield was “very stressed” and it required Rs 3,000 crore to increase production by June. Poonawalla added that his company was prioritising the vaccine needs of India but was still short of being able to supply doses to every citizen.
Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are the two vaccines being used in India’s inoculation drive. Currently, only people above 45 and frontline and health workers are eligible for vaccination.
India on Wednesday recorded 1,15,736 cases of coronavirus cases, the most infections reported in the world in a single day since the pandemic began. The country’s overall count rose to 1,28,01,785, or over 1.28 crore. The toll went up to 1,66,177, with 630 more fatalities reported.