Karnataka HC says 'shocked' at vaccine availability, 'impossible' for non-frontline workers to get inoculated

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Noting that it is "virtually impossible" for citizens in Karnataka to get vaccinated unless they were healthcare of frontline workers, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed state government to give their demand of number of vaccines required to the Centre.

According to reports, The court also directed the concerned authorities at the Centre to take a decision in this regard immediately and added that they should respond at the latest within three days of receiving the state government's request.

In its order, the HC noted the state's submissions that 1,72,00,795 doses of vaccine have already been administered in the state and there are 7,76,671 doses remaining.

According to Bar & Bench, the court noted the vaccines already administered cover all categories, including the 18-44 age group. The Bench further noted that 83,28,241 beneficiaries were given the first dose and 65 lakh people are in need of receiving the second dose.

"Thus, out of 65 lakh who have taken first dose, only 7 lakh can be provided with second dose," Bar&Bench quotes the court as saying.

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The court pointed out that the available quantity of the vaccine doses will first be given to those who taken the first dose while second priority can be accorded to health care workers and front line workers and remarked that it is virtually impossible for citizens to get first dose of vaccination unless they fall into these categories.

In its requisition request to the Centre, the state government should also mention the number of beneficiaries who are likely to lose the advantage of the first dose if the vaccine is not administered to them immediately, the court directed.

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The court was also informed by the state government that last week it placed an intend for two crore for Covishield vaccines and and one crore Covaxin.

A bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar was hearing a suo motu case registered after the court received two letters regarding the COVID-19 management in the state.

During the hearing, the court also pulled up the state government for not having written guidelines for the distribution of oxygen supply and said it must come out with such a protocol immediately.

"This is the situation till now that we don't have any guidelines. The cases have reached 50,ooo in the state. You don't have the figures of oxygen required in each district. There is no procedure laid down for the supply of oxygen. What happened at Chamarajanagar, the hospital made frantic calls. Imagine at grassroots level nobody knows how to procure oxygen," LiveLaw quotes the chief justice as saying.

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Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi informed the court about the measures taken by the Centre to increase oxygen supply in the state. Navadgi said the Centre had increased allocation to the state by 100 MT, of which 60 MT will be coming from Bellary unit and 40 MT from Orissa. He also told the court that the government has sanctioned the setting up 28 Pressure Swing Absoprtion (PSA) units in the state. "By 15 May, around six to 10 PSA unita will be functional and rest by end of the month," LiveLaw quotes him as saying. Navadgi further said that two tankers are allotted to state from the aid received by the Centre on Wednesday and four from Oman are also allotted to Karnataka.

The court directed the state government to ensure that information about its helpline number is available to each and every hospital admitting COVID patients. "We direct that the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners be directed to communicate the helpline numbers to the hospitals," it said.

The court ordered the Karnataka government to take immediate steps to ensure that centralised data on various aspects related to oxygen is provided to the war room.

According to Live Law, the court further directed that guidelines for optimum use of oxygen shall be made available to all hospitals across the state.

According to Bar&Bench, the court also directed the state government to formulate a scheme to assist citizens, especially those from vulnerable sections, to get themselves registered for the inoculation drive, saying that if this was not done, the very objective of vaccination will be frustrated.

The high court further directed the state government to bring a scheme to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread in slums as a large percentage of people live in these areas.

After the counsel for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike requested advocate Clifton to go on slow on tweets, the court directed that parties and lawyers appearing before it should not make comments on social media about subjects that are dealt with by the court. "We don't think there is any disagreement on this," LiveLaw quoted the Bench as saying.

According to Bar&Bench, the Bench also observed that the situation regarding the availability of beds in Bengaluru continues to be very grim.


Also See: Lack of COVID drug a violation of Article 19, notes Karnataka HC; demands real-time updates on availability

Karnataka HC orders judicial probe in Chamarajanagar hospital deaths, asks Centre to up state's Oxygen quota

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance hailed in SC for supplying 700 MT of oxygen to COVID-19 hospitals

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