Delhi doesn't have vaccines for 18-44 age group: Health minister

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New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the city 'does not have vaccines' for the inoculation of persons in the 18-44 age group and purchase orders have been placed with manufacturers for the same.

The minister, however, said preparations to give jabs to this category have been completed.

'At present, we don't have vaccines. We have requested the companies to provide it,' Jain told reporters when asked if there were enough vaccines available for the 18-44 age group.

'We will tell you in a day or two,” he replied to another query about starting the inoculation drive for this category on May 1.

He also said that the manufactures are yet to provide a schedule of vaccine supply to the Delhi government.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had said that everybody aged above 18 would be administered COVID-19 vaccines free of cost in Delhi.

He said that his government had approved the procurement of 1.34 crore vaccine doses from various manufacturers.

A government official on Wednesday had told PTI that inoculation of the 18-44 age group is likely to have a moderate start and will be ramped up gradually.

The vaccine will be delivered to the Delhi government in phases. Private hospitals will have to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers, he had said.

The Centre will continue to provide vaccines for those aged above 45.

Asked if more vaccine centres will be added considering the increased number of beneficiaries, the official had said, “A little bit expansion might be done, but by and large the number will remain the same.” At present, jabs are being given at around 500 centres in the capital.

On Thursday, Jain attributed the dip in the number of testing over the few days to the restricted movement of people due to the lockdown.

Health authorities in the capital have been conducting around 75,000 tests a day over the last few days. Before that, the average number of tests was around 1 lakh.

On the opposition's claim about a big difference in data related to deaths compiled at crematoriums and that released by the Delhi government, Jain, said, “This is not the time to play politics. They had raised the issue six months ago also. Everything was fine.” “Who has the right to hide the number of deaths? Everything is being done in a transparent manner in Delhi,” he added.

The minister said there were a few discrepancies in the health bulletin issued on Wednesday night and these have been rectified.

Delhi recorded 368 more COVID-19 deaths and 25,986 cases with a positivity rate of 31.76 per cent, according to the latest bulletin issued by the city health department.

This was the seventh day on the trot that Delhi had recorded over 300 deaths due to coronavirus. PTI GVS SNE