The Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for Covid-19 vaccines to be made available outside the government supply chain reported The Hindu. Patnaik said if vaccines were available in the open market, it would help citizens who wanted and could afford to avail them.

“This will help governments to have a focused approach towards vulnerable sections of society,” Patnaik said. “The few metropolitan cities which contribute the highest Covid cases should be allowed priority vaccination and flexibility in age criteria as these are economic nerve centres of the country, and any lockdown in these areas will have an impact on the rest of the country in terms of labour movement.”

India has a significant vaccine manufacturing potential, Patnaik said, adding that the Centre and states should “support units to ramp up production”, reported ANI. “Covid vaccine that have been already approved globally by credible agencies and governments may be accorded approval to increase supply.”

Follow today’s coronavirus updates here

Patnaik also informed the prime minister that his government had administered around 47 lakh Covid vaccine doses to frontline workers and beneficiaries over 45 years old. “We have one of the lowest rates of wastage in the country. We have a capacity to administer more than 3 lakh doses every day.”

The Odisha chief minister said that intermittent supply of the shots was a hurdle in the inoculation process, highlighting that the state needed 25 lakh vaccine shots. “Even at full capacity, it will take us 160 days to fully vaccinate the eligible population of our state [above 45 years].”

The Odisha government had on Tuesday stopped the coronavirus inoculation drive in 11 of its 30 districts because of a vaccine shortage. The process was stopped in Sambalpur, Puri, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Nayagarh, Boudh, Gajapati, Dhenkanal, Koraput, Jharsuguda and Sonepur, said Director of Family Welfare Dr Bijay Panigrahi, who is also in charge of immunisation in the state.

Scarcity of Covid-19 vaccines during the second wave of the pandemic has forced some centres across the country to turn away people. Besides Odisha, at least nine other states – Kerala, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab and Delhi – have reported vaccine shortages in the past week. However, the Centre has repeatedly claimed that there was no shortage in the country. “The problem is of better planning, not vaccine shortage,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said on Tuesday.

As of Saturday morning, Odisha has 15,990 active Covid-19 cases, 3,43,522 recoveries and 1,938 deaths.