Rapid vaccination is the only way out of the Covid surge in India, say top doctors, but is India in a state to inoculate a large population when some States are already complaining of vaccine shortage?
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has assured that India has sufficient stock of vaccines and no state will face problems on this front, adding that "allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless."
Maharashtra, the state with 56.1% of the active cases in the country, has vaccines just for three more days, says Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope. Maharashtra received 1.06 crore doses of the vaccine.
With a vaccine wastage rate of 3%, the State, so far, has vaccinated 85,64,908 people. As of Wednesday morning, the State had 14 lakh doses in stock that will last for 3 more days as the state, on an average, is vaccinating 4 lakh people per day.
To cope with the increasing demand, the state is demanding 40 lakh vaccine doses per week. It has also questioned the slow pace of delivery from the central government. Even Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had made a similar demand before. He wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for 1.5 crore additional vaccines to expedite the vaccination process seeing the Covid surge in the state.
Mumbai city, which is witnessing a worrying surge, has just a day of vaccines in the stock, according to city's Mayor Kishori Pednekar. She said Mumbai had 1.76 Covishield doses yesterday and it might have gotten over by now. Countering these demands from Maharashtra, Harsh Vardhan says, "This is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from Maharashtra government's repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic."
Chhattisgarh, the state with the second highest number of active cases currently, at 6.21%, is vaccinating 2 lakh people every day and it had just 2 lakh vaccines left in the stock on April 5. State's Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo says the supply has been mostly erratic as the state nearly ran out of vaccines on Monday.
On Chhattisgarh's allegation, Harsh Vardhan says, "It would be better if the State government focuses its energies on ramping up their health infrastructure rather than on petty politicking."
Andhra Pradesh is demanding 1 crore vaccine doses immediately. As per a media report, the State currently has a stock of just 3.7 lakh doses while it inoculates 1.3 lakh people daily. Going by the current consumption rate, the vaccine could last for just three more days only, with no vaccines already in Nellore and West Godavari districts.
Odisha's Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) PK Mohapatra has written a letter to the Centre demanding additional 15 to 20 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine as the current stock is expected to get over in next three days.
Telangana also says it has just three days of vaccine left and has demanded more vaccines from the Centre, as per State's Health Minister Eatala Rajender.
This is not the first time that the Centre has assured that the country has enough stock of coronavirus vaccine. On Saturday, the Union Health Ministry had tweeted saying the same. Last month, reacting to vaccine shortage in Rajasthan, the ministry had said that the Centre had given 37.61 lakh doses of vaccine to Rajasthan but the state could use just 24.28 lakh doses for vaccination.