The Union government is still in the denial mode about COVID vaccine shortage even as some 13 states raised alarm over fast depleting stocks of drugs.
Meanwhile, the second wave of the pandemic continues to sweep through the nation. India on Wednesday reported the highest-ever, single-day surge as 1,84,372 positive cases in the last 24 hours. About 1,000 people lost their lives during the same period.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said there is no shortage of vaccines and put the onus on states to provide doses to vaccination centres “in a time-bound manner with meticulous planning”.
States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Assam have asked the Centre for more doses saying their stocks won’t last long. Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar too have reported shortage at some places. The Union health minister responded asking the state governments to put an end to “fear-mongering”.
There were also reports from some of these states that the vaccination centres were shutting down for want of vaccines. This was the situation even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Tika Utsav’, a mass vaccination drive, last Sunday.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra…
The state of Maharashtra is still the worst affected with one third of all infections and one fourth of national COVID deaths.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical advisor of the Maharashtra Covid-19 taskforce, told India Today, “If we vaccinate at least 2 crore people (20% of population) in the next two months, it will certainly help Maharashtra, while it won’t help much if we delay vaccinations.”
Maharashtra is the first state to vaccinate more than 1 crore people till date.
Assuming that the Centre accepts CM Uddhav Thackeray’s request to vaccinate everyone above 25 years of age, it would take Maharashtra in excess of 200 days to inoculate everyone in the 25-44 years age bracket.
On shortage of remdesivir
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan admitted that the country is short of remdesivir, an important drug to contain the virus, but said the manufacturers have now jacked up production. “The shortage of remdesivir happened because its production was reduced as Covid-19 cases were decreasing. Our drug controller and ministry held a meeting with stakeholders and asked manufacturers to strengthen the production,” the minister told ANI. The minister said that black marketeers of the vital drug will be dealt with firmly.
“The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) has directed for strict action into any complaint of black marketing of remdesivir. Those who are exploiting people and creating an artificial shortage of medicine, strict action should be taken against them,” he said, reported ANI.