Delhi to get 5.5 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses for 18-44 age group in June: Sisodia

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New Delhi, May 29 (PTI) Delhi will receive 5.5 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group from the Centre next month, but not before June 10, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Saturday as he accused the central government of being stubborn on the issue of vaccine distribution.

Sisodia also accused the Centre of 'negligence and gross mismanagement', and sought to know how private hospitals were getting vaccines while states were being told that there are no stocks.

'The Delhi government wants to vaccinate all its youth free of cost. If there are no vaccines for this purpose, how are vaccines available at private hospitals,' the deputy chief minister asked, underlining that such facilities were charging around Rs 1,000 per jab.

All states are awaiting stocks of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate the youth and save them from this pandemic, he added, addressing a press conference here.

At one point, Sisodia said, 'Kendra sarkar vaccine distribution system par kundli maar ke baithi hui hai (central government is stubbornly sitting on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution system).' In a statement issued later, the deputy chief minister was quoted as saying that the 'BJP-led government was not distributing vaccines earmarked for the states, and instead playing vaccine politics'.

According to data shared with the Centre, 52.84 lakh doses have been administered in Delhi since the inoculation exercise began on January 16. Of this, 36.79 lakh were of Covishield and 16.04 lakh of Covaxin. The highest number of 1.41 lakh people were vaccinated on May 10.

With vaccination for the 18-44 age group remaining suspended for the sixth day on Saturday, Sisodia said, 'The central government has told us that more stocks for the youth segment will be made available in June, but not before June 10.' Even after June 10, there won't be enough to vaccinate everyone, he added.

Sharing some data, the deputy chief minister said that against a requirement of 1.84 crore doses to vaccinate 92 lakh people in the 18-44 age group in Delhi, the Centre had provided 4.5 lakh doses in April and 3.67 lakh doses in May.

The city government is prepared to vaccinate all its 92 lakh people in this age group within three months to 'break the chain of the coronavirus', but there isn't enough vaccines, he said.

'The Centre has informed us that a limited stock of 5.5 lakh doses will be provided in June, but not before June 10,' Sisodia added.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has floated a global expression of interest (EOI) for procurement of 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine on an urgent basis.

The offered COVID-19 vaccine must be duly approved by the competent authority of the government of India, the Directorate General of Health Services said in the EOI document dated May 27.

Claiming that inoculation centres for the 18-44 age group are shutting down due to lack of vaccines, Sisodia said the Centre should share the data on doses provided to the states and the private sector.

The deputy chief minster, who also holds the finance portfolio, said he had raised the demand of zero GST on COVID-19 vaccines, pulse oxymeters, oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other equipment used in the treatment of the viral disease during Friday's GST Council meeting.

The proposal fell through because of opposition from finance ministers of BJP-ruled states, Sisodia claimed.

'Why is the BJP, in a time of grave difficulties and challenges, protesting against removing GST on vaccines and COVID-19 medical equipment? Surely, vaccinating our citizens and ensuring each and every person is taken care of is more important that accumulating revenue in such a time of crisis.

'We should not think about earning money or getting revenue out of vaccines, oxymeters, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, PPE kits etc. At this point, our priority should be to make our country and our people safe,' he added. PTI VIT/KND IJT IJT

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