The executive director of Pune-based Serum Institute of India on Friday squarely blamed the Centre for the country’s vaccine shortage, reported PTI. Suresh Jadhav alleged that the government did not take into account the available stock of vaccines and ignored World Health Organization guidelines while rolling out inoculation phases.
His comments came as India is facing a massive shortage of coronavirus vaccine.
“Initially, 300 million people were to be administered the vaccine for which 600 million doses were required,” Jadhav said at an e-summit organised by Heal Health, a health advocacy and awareness platform. “But before we reached the target, the government opened vaccination for all above 45 years followed by those aged 18 and above despite knowing well that so much vaccine is not available.”
Jadhav said India should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised vaccination accordingly. “That is the greatest lesson we learnt,” he added, according to PTI. “We must take into account the availability of the product and then use it judiciously.”
When the Centre opened up vaccinations for all adults, it said it would provide states a limited stock of vaccines and that they would have to acquire the remaining doses that were necessary. Besides abruptly opening up vaccinations, the Centre also faced flak for allowing vaccine makers to charge the states more than they charged the Union government for the shots.
Now, several states are facing shortages of vaccines as manufacturers have not been able to meet supply requirements. At least eight states have decided to float global tenders for procuring the doses as they struggle to inoculate those in the age group of 18-44, who became eligible for the shots in third phase of vaccination that rolled out on May 1.
The Centre has consistently denied any vaccine shortages, blaming states for inadequate planning or for vaccine wastage.
Currently, 18.92 crore doses of the vaccine have been administered in India, while 4.14 crore beneficiaries have received both the shots, according to government data. Thus, only around 2.95% of India’s 140 crore population is fully vaccinated as of now.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan claimed that the country will be able to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021. However, the International Monetary Fund has predicted that under the existing scenario of coronavirus vaccine supply, India will be able to inoculate 33% of its population by the end of this year.
Jadhav stressed on the need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour even if vaccinated. “Although the double mutant of Indian variants are neutralised, yet variants can create problems in vaccination,” he said.