Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday urged the Centre to allow more companies to produce coronavirus vaccines to address the shortage of doses amid the massive surge in coronavirus cases in India. Presently, only Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India in Pune are manufacturing vaccine doses for India’s inoculation drive.
Kejriwal said during a press briefing that the Centre should obtain the vaccine-making formula from the two companies and give it to other firms capable of producing the doses safely. “They [Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute] produce only 6-7 crore vaccines a month and at this pace, it will take more than two years to vaccinate everyone in India,” Kejriwal said. “By then, many waves of the coronavirus would have hit India.”
The Delhi chief minister added that his goal was to vaccinate everyone in the Capital in three months. “Presently, we are administering 1.25 lakh vaccine doses every day but will soon begin vaccinating over three lakh people daily,” Kejriwal said.
However, Kejriwal said that Delhi had just a few days worth of vaccine stocks left. “Vaccine shortage has become a huge challenge for the country,” he added. “It is important to increase the production of vaccines on war footing. India can’t win the war against the coronavirus until everyone is vaccinated.”
Kejriwal claimed that the lockdown imposed in Delhi had been successful and the number of coronavirus cases was declining. “There is no shortage of ICU [intensive care unit] and oxygen beds in Delhi now,” he added.
Delhi on Tuesday recorded 12,481 new coronavirus cases and 347 deaths in 24 hours. The city now has a total of 13,48,699 infections and the toll has risen to 20,010. The positivity rate has fallen to 17.76%, though the number of coronavirus tests have also reduced.
On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had also flagged the scarcity of vaccine doses in the city. “There is only one day of Covaxin [supplies] left in Delhi and only three to four days of Covishield,” Jain had told reporters. “We need vaccines at the earliest.”
India is battling a severe second wave of the coronavirus. Hospitals across the country are struggling with acute shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies. Several states had to defer the third phase of vaccination, covering all above 18 years, due to a scarcity of doses.
It has reported more than 3 lakh cases a day every day for the past three weeks, since April 22. On May 1, it hit a new record by crossing the 4-lakh mark, the highest single-day tally by any country in the world. This was surpassed on May 7, when India recorded 4.14 lakh daily cases. Thousands have died every day, but reports allege that the government is severely undercounting Covid-19 deaths.
On Tuesday morning, India recorded 3,29,942 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally of infections in the country to 2,29,92,517 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The toll rose by 3,876 to 2,49,992.