Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the national Capital has run out of vaccines, ANI reported. His comments came a day after registrations were opened for inoculating citizens in the age group of 18-44 and two days before the third phase of vaccination is scheduled to roll out.
“We don’t have vaccines as of now,” Jain said. “We have made requests to the company regarding vaccines, we will tell you when it comes.” Jain added that vaccine manufacturers were yet to provide a schedule of supply to the Delhi government, NDTV reported.
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that his government will provide free coronavirus vaccines to everyone above 18 years of age. He had also said that the government had approved the purchase of 1.34 crore doses of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, a top official of Mumbai’s civic body on Thursday said that vaccination for the 18-44 age group will not begin on May 1 in the Maharashtra Capital as well.
“Vaccination for the new age group will start only after enough vaccines are made available, and not exactly on 1st May,” Ashwini Bhide, Additional Municipal Commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, said in a tweet.
In a series of tweets, Bhide said that the vaccines were in “short supply” and urged those above 45 to not crowd at vaccination centres. She added that the civic body will add 500 more vaccination centres and that inoculation for priority groups will not be “compromised or slowed down” even when the drive for those under 45 begins.
The scarcity of vaccines ahead of the third phase of vaccination that makes all adults eligible for the shot from May 1, is not a concern in Delhi and Mumbai only. On Wednesday, 1.33 crore people registered themselves for the vaccine after the provision was opened for those in the 18-44 age group. However, most of them could not book a slot for vaccination, as they were open only for those above 45.
While Uttar Pradesh is expected to do a token drive on May 1, Madhya Pradesh will put off vaccinations for the 60+ and the 45+ age groups for two days to concentrate on the new age bracket on May 1, according to The Times of India.
States such as Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh have placed orders for vaccines. But, they are not sure if they will get the stocks in time. Gujarat and Maharashtra governments have said they will announce vaccination schedules once stocks arrive.
Earlier this month too, at least seven states – Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana – have reported shortage of vaccines. The burden is likely to increase with around 60 crore more citizens in the 18 to 45 age group becoming eligible for the shots in the third phase.
Under the new vaccination policy that will come into effect on May 1, 50% of the shots manufactured will be earmarked for the Centre. This quota will be used to inoculate priority groups who were already eligible for the shots. So, only half of the vaccines manufactured from May 1 will have to be used to accommodate the 60 crore new beneficiaries.
Even if the projected ramped up capacity of manufacturers is taken into account, Serum Institute is expected to produce 10 crore doses of Covishield, Bharat Biotech will churn out one crore doses of Covaxin and Dr Reddy’s will make 40 lakh vials of Sputnik V by the month of June, according to The Times of India.
This would not even cover the 40 crore people in the priority groups that the government had hoped to cover by August. The figure does not even take into account the new beneficiaries.
So far, more than 14.85 crore shots have been administered, while 2.51 crore beneficiaries have received both their doses, according to government data.