Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday claimed that Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of coronavirus vaccine Covaxin, has refused to supply additional doses to the Capital.
Sisodia said during a press briefing that Delhi had asked for 1.34 crore vaccine doses, equal parts Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.
“Yesterday, Bharat Biotech wrote to us saying that they were making dispatches as per the directives of concerned officials,” Sisodia said. “It is clear that they are central government officials. Bharat Biotech said they cannot give us more doses because they have to supply according the Centre’s order.”
Sisodia said that Delhi had been forced to shut down over 100 vaccination centres because of lack of Covaxin doses. “Our reserve stock of doses is over,” he said. “Centres administering the Covishield vaccine are operating.”
The Delhi deputy chief minister hit out at the Centre for “vaccine mismanagement”. “Had the Centre not exported 6.6 crore vaccine doses, each and every person in Delhi and Mumbai would have been administered two doses by now,” Sisodia added.
Sisodia urged the Centre to stop the export of vaccines immediately. He added that it was the Centre’s responsibility to import vaccines and supply them to the states.
Sisodia requested the government to adhere to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s suggestion to procure vaccine-making formulae from Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India and give it to other firms in order to boost production.
Kejriwal had said on Tuesday that his government’s goal was to vaccinate everyone in Delhi in three months, but the shortage of doses was a challenge. “It is important to increase the production of vaccines on war footing,” he had said. “India can’t win the war against the coronavirus until everyone is vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech co-founder Sucharita Ella said it was disheartening to hear some states complaining about the company’s intentions. “Fifty of our employees are off work due to covid, yet we continue to work under pandemic lockdowns 24x7 for you,” she had tweeted before Sisodia’s press conference.
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.
On Wednesday, India registered 3,48,421 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections to 2,33,40,938 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. With 4,205 deaths, the toll climbed to 2,54,197. This is the highest single-day rise in the number of deaths so far since the outbreak of the pandemic. There are 37,04,099 active cases, while 1,93,82,642 patients have recovered.