New Delhi/Raipur: Wednesday is the last day of ‘Tika Utsav’ or vaccine festival, as it has been labelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yet, vaccine shortages continue to plague centres across the country, even though the central government maintains that it is not a real shortage but just a matter of “planning”.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Tuesday that states need to take stock of vaccine supplies and stockpiles on a daily basis.
“The problem is not of supply but of planning. We are giving four days’ supply to the big states and replenishing it every four to five days. Small states get seven to eight days’ vaccine supply, which is replenished after that period. State governments need to see the status of doses on a daily basis, just like the exercise we do in the health ministry every day,” Bhushan said.
The senior IAS officer added that states and union territories have so far received 13,10,90,370 doses (13.10 crore), while the total consumption, including wastage, stands at 11,43,69,677 (11.43 crore). The balance available with states and union territories is 1,67,20,693 (1.67 crore) and doses on their way in the supply pipeline amount to 2,01,22,960 (2.01 crore).
In capital New Delhi, a relatively small area, some private hospitals have complained of vaccine shortage, though other private and government hospitals said they have a comfortable supply.
The city had administered 20,70,868 vaccine doses till Monday evening, according to a health department official. Of these, over three lakh doses are the second and final ones that patients have received.
A total of 1,04,862 people were administered the first dose Monday. The vaccination drive, which began on 16 January, has seen a gradual rise in the daily number of doses. As of 8 April, the government had reported 17.96 lakh vaccinations.
However, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently wrote to PM Modi highlighting the vaccine shortage, and said Sunday that he would “even beg for vaccinations if required”. The AAP government in Delhi is also advocating door-to-door vaccinations if the Centre allows.
Dr Shalini Chawla, nodal vaccination officer at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, was one of those who pointed to a vaccine shortage. “There is a huge shortage. Against a capacity of 700 vaccinations a day, we are only able to do about 150-200.” She added that the hospital only had stock for one more day.
However, Fortis Hospital said: “We have ramped up the stocks in Mumbai, but Delhi is not a concern so far.”
Chhavi Gupta, media coordinator at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, the largest vaccine cold chain point in Delhi, has been inoculating to its full capacity of nearly 200-250 every day. “There has been no specific change in numbers during the Tika Utsav and neither have we fallen short of stock so far,” Gupta said.
Top officials of the administration said government hospitals were vaccinating people beyond target capacity.
“We had a target of about 600 vaccinations in a day and we have been vaccinating about 700-750 during the Tika Utsav, and we haven’t had any issue replenishing our weekly stock,” Dr Neelam Roy, nodal vaccination officer for Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. The DMs of North-West and South districts also said they have sufficient stocks.
Things weren’t always positive, but the situation has improved, according to Dharmendra Singh, additional district magistrate of West Delhi. “We were short of stock last week briefly but we haven’t had any issues after that. We’ve got more stock now and are vaccinating according to our targets,” he said, adding that the district is carrying out at least 12,000 vaccinations daily.
Munindra Nath Ngatey, Assam’s director of health services (family welfare) told ThePrint that the state was facing a vaccine shortage, but was still getting people inoculated.
“We are trying to rationalise, but not are fully able to meet the requirement for first dose. We are efficiently administering the second dose,” Ngatey said.
“As of now, we have 1,40,000 vaccines left — both Covaxin and Covishield. Our target for the age group 45 and above was 70 lakh. Till date, we have reached out to over 15.41 lakh people, including five lakh healthcare and frontline workers,” he added.
Till 2 pm Saturday, 15,41,882 people in Assam had been vaccinated — 12,69,454 with the first dose, and 2,72,428 with the second, at 1,177 session sites, of which just 40 are operated by the private sector.
The state has administered 13,18,189 doses of Serum Institute of India’s Covishield (developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca) and 2,23,693 doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh told ThePrint that there was no shortage of vaccines till now.
“We have not set any particular target for ‘Tika Utsav’; we are doing it in a smoother way. Earlier, I noticed some complaints of vaccination shortage in western UP, but now there is no such issue,” Singh said.
According to UP health officials, a total of 75.76 lakh people have been administered the first dose, and 12.70 lakh with both doses. There are a total of 8,000 centres in UP for Tika Utsav.
In Punjab, the total vaccination on Day 1 of the Tika Utsav (Sunday, 11 April) was over 94,000. By Day 3, Tuesday, the number had fallen to around 65,000.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid control in Punjab, said the state had four days’ worth of vaccine stock — a little over four lakh doses.
Also read: Early orders, more funds, swift payments — govt panel tips for boosting India’s vaccine supply
On the first day of Tika Utsav, several centres in Maharashtra were facing an acute shortage, to the extent that at many places, private vaccination centres were shut. The state managed to administer 2,23,753 doses on 11 April as against over four lakh doses the previous day.
The sanctioning of 17 lakh more doses to Maharashtra has eased the situation a bit, though the state, which was averaging four lakh doses a day from 3 April to 8 April, is still unable to scale up vaccinations to its target of six lakh a day.
Most centres that had shut down due to shortages have now started functioning. Districts, however, still don’t have supply visibility beyond three or four days to plan ahead.
As of Tuesday, Karnataka has been facing a vaccine shortage. State health department officials confirmed that their stock would only last until Wednesday, but they were expecting around four lakh vaccines to arrive by the end of day.
Director of Health and Family Welfare Omprakash Patil said the state had no data specifically for Tika Utsav, as it is part of the vaccination drive it has already been conducting daily.
On Tuesday, Karnataka conducted 3,410 sessions, making it a total of 1,40,417 sessions in the 88 days since the vaccination drive began. As part of those sessions, 37,569 people were vaccinated Tuesday, taking the overall number to 61,06,109, including healthcare workers and frontline workers.
In the 44-59 age group, 18,82,009 people have received the first dose, and 32,327 people the second dose. In the over-60 group, 28,14,756 have been administered the first dose, and 89,805 the second.
Chhattisgarh has become the state with the second highest active cases after Maharashtra. As of Tuesday, Chhattisgarh had 1.09 lakh active cases, with nearly 15,000 being added Tuesday, and 84,000 in first 13 days of April. The state also saw nearly 1,000 deaths between 31 March and 13 April, including the highest single-day mark of 109 deaths Tuesday.
Chhattisgarh will run out of its Covid vaccine stock Wednesday, as the state has not been provided a fresh consignment promised by the Centre more than a week ago, state Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo told ThePrint.
The minister revealed that Chhattisgarh’s vaccine stock is completely depleted, while officials added that more than 10 lakh vaccines supplied to the state in the last two weeks will have run out by Wednesday.
Singh Deo said that according to an official report, the number of vaccinations had reduced to 99,000 doses on 13 April from the high of 3.26 lakh doses on 3 April.
“The state got its last consignment of 6.84 lakh vaccines on 8 April, and around 4 lakh doses a week before — for a total of around 10.84 lakh doses in a fortnight. The stock is almost depleted and we haven’t got a supply of fresh vaccines in the last one week, despite promises by the Centre,” the minister said.
“This is bound to impair the vaccination drive in the state. The Centre had promised to supply us vaccines within 2-3 days, but no supply has come in almost six days,” added the Congress leader.
“Chhattisgarh is being given step-motherly treatment by the Centre despite the fact that we have vaccinated more than 41 lakh people with the first dose, more than 14 per cent of the population, which is the fifth highest after Ladakh, Sikkim, Tripura and Lakshadweep. We need to look after the well-being of the people of Chhattisgarh,” he said.
Singh Deo added that there was no point talking about Tika Utsav when the state had no vaccines for its people.
A senior health department official said on the condition of anonymity: “Most of the districts in Chhattisgarh have run out of vaccine stocks. It’s difficult to comment on exact figures of doses available but it cannot be more than 40,000 left for Wednesday. This will get exhausted within hours as our daily vaccination score is around 1.70 lakh. There is going to be a major vaccine crisis in the state, and we also have no hope of getting a fresh consignment in the next two days.”
(With inputs from Karishma Hasnat, Prashant Srivastava, Chitleen Sethi, Manasi Phadke Rohini Swamy and Abantika Ghosh)
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)
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