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Centre pulls up Maharashtra for slow vaccination pace, ‘unused’ doses as state asks for more

Maharashtra wants more doses as it plans to vaccinate 3 lakh individuals per day. It has also requested the health ministry to allow more centres to vaccinate people.

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Mumbai: Maharashtra, which is accounting for over 50 per cent of India’s total daily Covid-19 cases almost everyday now, has been pulled up by the central government over slow pace of vaccination and “unused” vaccines.

This comes even as the state government has asked for more vaccine doses as it plans to scale up vaccinations to three lakh a day.

During a virtual meeting of chief ministers of various states with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday, Union health ministry officials said the pace of Covid vaccinations in Maharashtra “was satisfactory as compared with other major states, but more needs to be done”, a statement from the Maharashtra CM’s office said. 

While the meeting was ongoing, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted, lashing out at the Uddhav Thackeray-led government over 31 lakh vaccine doses lying unused.

“Maharashtra Government had only used 23 lakh vaccines out of the total 54 lakh vaccines sent to the state, till 12th March. 56% vaccines remained unused. Now, Shiv Sena MP asks for more vaccines for the state. First mismanagement of pandemic now poor administration of vaccines,” he wrote.

Javadekar was referring to Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, who Wednesday hit out at the government’s push to export vaccines.

“Vaccines exported under our Vaccine Maitri initiative: 5.8 crore doses. Vaccines administered in India : 3.5 crores. Shouldn’t Indians have equal access for vaccines manufactured in India? No sorry, strict GoI regulation applicable,” tweeted Chaturvedi.

Commenting on Javadekar’s tweet, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope at a press conference said the state plans to ramp up vaccination to three lakh a day and the current stock of 31 lakh doses will be sufficient only for 10 days. He, therefore, asked for more vaccine doses.

Tope also said the state government has requested the health ministry to allow more centres to immunise people in order to speed up the vaccination.

Maharashtra has been administering 1,38,957 vaccine doses on an average every day, and currently has 31,38,463 doses available. So far, 35,52,000 doses have been administered, according to information from the CM’s office. 

Also read: How Covid-19 is striking back with a second wave — lessons from the three worst-hit states

Need 20 lakh doses per week

Health Minister Tope, addressing the press conference, said the state would need 20 lakh vaccine doses — covering both the first and second doses — every week to be able to achieve its target of administering three lakh doses a day. 

“We are targeting to give three lakh vaccines per day in Maharashtra. Our target is to vaccinate 1.77 crore health workers, frontline workers, senior citizens and those above 45 with comorbidities,” he said.

“For them, we will need 2.20 crore vaccine doses for the first and second doses put together. We will need these doses at the speed of 20 lakh per week,” he added. 

Over 150 hospitals can’t administer vaccines

Tope added he met Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan and requested him, as well as principal secretary of the department, Rajesh Bhushan, to make the vaccine doses available to the state government as well as allow more vaccination centres to administer doses.

“We want 367 private and government hospitals to administer Covid vaccines. Of these, 209 have been given approval. Over 150 other hospitals still don’t have approval. If we get the sanction, we will be able to implement the vaccination process more speedily,” said Tope, an NCP minister. 

He said the Union minister as well as the principal secretary were open to the demand, but insisted that the state government should not store doses and keep them unused. 

Tope said he plans to monitor every vaccination centre personally to ensure doses are optimally used.

Maharashtra has been seeing a drastic spike in Covid cases. The state Tuesday recorded 17,864 cases, and accounts for more than 50 per cent of India’s active cases. On Monday, the state reported 15,051 new cases, while Sunday, it recorded 16,620 cases. Active cases in Maharashtra currently stands at 1,38,813.

(Edited by Debalina Dey)

Also read: Reasons behind Maharashtra’s disastrous Covid showing dragging the India story down


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