India's vaccination exercise against coronavirus is again being marred by politics with multiple opposition-ruled states seeking more jab supplies, citing their higher capacity to vaccinate people ahead of a possible third wave of the pandemic.
After states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi have asked for more supplies in July, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan hit out on Thursday, saying states should stop playing "shameless politics" and focus on governance rather than create panic.
He said 12 crore doses would be sent to the states in July, apart from the 25% supply that is reserved for private hospitals. This would mean about 15-16 crore doses in all in July, which should be enough for daily vaccinations of 50-60 lakh this month.
However, both Maharashtra and Rajasthan have told the Centre that they can each vaccinate 15 lakh people daily given their increased capacity.
Rajasthan has said it needs at least 1.5 crore doses in July and Chhattisgarh has said it needs one crore doses. Maharashtra has been allotted about 1.15 crore doses for July, Rajasthan has been allotted 65 lakh, while Chhattisgarh has been allotted around 24 lakh — which all these states termed have inadequate.
West Bengal, which has been allotted 90 lakh doses for July, wants at least double that supply with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee citing higher supplies being given by the Centre to states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Issue is of Supplies
A senior central government official said the real issue was of supplies, which are expected to be moderate in July and could see a quantum increase only August onwards.
"States want to vaccinate quickly fearing a third wave, but there are supply constraints," a senior Health Ministry official told News18.
He also said the allocation is being made to states on pro-rate basis as per their eligible population (18+ years) and there is no politics involved in it.
"Uttar Pradesh has over 15 crore eligible population so it has got the maximum allocation for July of 1.91 crore vaccines, followed by Maharashtra (9.07 crore eligible population), which will get 1.15 crore doses, while Bihar will get 92 lakh doses as it has 7.2 crore eligible population," the official explained, citing advance information, which has already been shared with states 15 days ago.
Limited supplies from Bharat Biotech of Covaxin is also a major issue as out of the 15-16 crore doses expected in July, only about 2.5 -3 crore doses are expected from Bharat Biotech.
News18 had reported last week that Bharat Biotech has only supplied about four crore doses in the last five months and has to escalate its supplies by nearly nine times to fulfill the entire order of 48 crore doses over the next six months.
The addition of the Biological-E vaccine from August to the kitty could help.