All 400 coronavirus vaccination centres for the 18 to 44 age group in Delhi have been shut down, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday. He also said that the Centre was responsible for the acute shortage of vaccine doses.
Sisodia said that out of the 650 centres for the 45-plus age group, the places administering Covaxin were shut down. Only those administering Covishield were functional.
The Delhi deputy chief minister said that the Aam Aadmi Party government had reached out to Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for vaccines after the Centre did not give them more shots and asked them to procure it through a global tender.
“The central government has made vaccines a joke in India,” the deputy chief minister said.
Sisodia alleged the Centre had failed to manage and sustain its vaccination drive. “It was the Centre’s responsibility to make vaccines available to the entire country, but it chose to sell doses to others first merely for image management across the globe,” he added.
The Delhi deputy chief minister claimed that the central government has either not approved foreign-made vaccines or did not do it in a timely manner. Sisodia said that Russia approved the Sputnik V vaccine in August, but the Centre gave permission for its use only in April.
“Britain gave approval to US-made Pfizer in December,” he said. “We were sleeping back then and are still sleeping. At least 85 countries approved Pfizer vaccine and started procuring and vaccinating, but in India, we have not yet given approval.”
Sisodia also cited Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which have been given permission for use by many countries, but India has not given them emergency use authorisation.
“The vaccines which the Centre has asked us to buy from outside have not even been approved in the country yet,” Sisodia said.
The deputy chief minister further said that while other places, including the United States and the European Union, placed advanced procurement orders, the Indian government did not do the same, reported The Indian Express.
Sisodia also wrote to the Union government, asking it to make a centralised vaccine procurement and allocation policy, reported ANI.
The Capital’s total count of cases rose to 14,18,418 since the pandemic broke out in January last year and the toll went up to 23,409 Delhi’s positivity rate in the last 24 hours stood at 2.52%.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna will not sell the shots directly to the Aam Aadmi Party government, reported NDTV.
Delhi had floated a global tender amid a shortage of vaccines and had to pause the immunisation programme in the national Capital for the 18-44 age group on May 22.
“They have said they will deal with the central government,” Kejriwal said. “We appeal to the Centre to import vaccines and distribute to the states.”
The chief minister asked why the Centre cannot negotiate deals with vaccine manufacturing companies in three to four days, reported the Hindustan Times.
He said that Bharat Biotech, which is manufacturing Covaxin, was willing to share its formula with other companies. “A national newspaper reported that 16 companies here can produce Covaxin,” Kejriwal said. “Out of them, Bharat Biotech has struck a deal with only two companies. The Centre should order, not request, these 16 companies to start production within the next few days.”
On Sunday, the Punjab government too had said that Moderna had refused to supply its coronavirus vaccines directly to the state government.
Amid the shortages of vaccines in Delhi, Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an increase in the supply of vaccine doses. “Every month, Delhi needs 80 lakh doses but it received only 16 lakh doses in May,” he said in the letter. “For June, our share has been reduced further to eight lakh doses.”
Currently, 19.38 crore doses of the vaccine have been administered in India, while 4.18 crore beneficiaries have received both shots, according to government data. Thus, only 2.97% of India’s 140 crore population are fully vaccinated as of now. Earlier this month, NITI Aayog member VK Paul had said that India will have 216 crore doses of vaccines by the end of this year. However, the calculation furnished by the government included eight vaccines, out of which five have not yet been authorised in India, or anywhere else.