New Delhi: Almost one-third of all states in India have told the Supreme Court that they are unlikely to receive their quota of Covid-19 vaccine doses from the manufacturing companies by May-end.
These states are Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Manipur, and they made submissions in their affidavits filed in the top court, which is hearing a suo motu cognisance case related to the supply of essentials during the pandemic.
Vaccines bought directly by states are meant to inoculate the 18-44 age group under Phase 3 of the vaccination drive.
As many as 25 states and six union territories have furnished affidavits before the SC on the measures they have taken in the wake of the massive spurt in Covid infections during the second wave. Sikkim and Uttarakhand are the two states that did not file affidavits, apart from two UTs, Chandigarh and Ladakh.
Details enumerated in the affidavits relate to status of healthcare facilities, availability of oxygen, drugs, number of vaccinations administered so far, doses needed to vaccinate the 18-44 age group and states’ view on the Centre’s policy on vaccine pricing.
The matter was listed for hearing today but the case got adjourned due to the unavailability of one of the three judges, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
While all 31 states and UTs have provided data on vaccination coverage during the first two phases of the drive, 17 have specifically mentioned the number of doses they have placed the orders for with Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, which manufacture Covaxin and Covishield, respectively.
But the nine states mentioned above have categorically said the two companies have either expressed inability to supply them the stock in time or have assured them of staggered delivery over the next two-three months.
West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the only states that have voiced their concern over the Centre’s vaccine pricing policy.
A few states also highlighted shortage of vaccines.
Orders were placed with the companies after the Centre on 19 April allowed states to directly procure vaccines from the manufacturers and carry out vaccination of those in the age group of 18-44 years. The Centre continues to supply vaccines to states for older people and frontline workers.
According to a central government affidavit in the top court in the case, with the launch of the third phase of the vaccination drive, 59 crore additional names have got added to the eligibility list.
According to government guidelines, both the manufactures have to sell 50 per cent of their output to the Centre, while the other 50 per cent can be sold to states and private hospitals at pre-decided rates.
Kerala drive slows down, Jharkhand wants to use 45+ stock
Chhattisgarh, which has administered 54.38 lakh doses so far, has placed orders for 25 lakh vaccines with the SII and another 25 lakh with Bharat Biotech. According to its affidavit, Bharat Biotech will deliver the first lot of 3 lakh vaccines in May, 10 lakh in June and 12 lakh in July.
Himachal Pradesh has claimed that it covered more than 20 per cent of its population in the first two phases. An order for 73 lakh doses was placed with the SII and the supply, it said, will commence in three-four weeks and take three-four months to complete.
The pace of Kerala’s vaccination drive has fallen from 2-2.5 lakh per day to 1.5 lakh owing to unavailability of vaccines, the state’s affidavit claimed. It has ordered 1 crore vaccines, out of which Bharat Biotech will give 10 lakh each in May, June and July. The SII, which is to deliver Kerala the remaining 70 lakh, has not informed the state about its delivery schedule.
As for Jharkhand, the state has requested the Centre to allow it to use the vaccine stock meant to inoculate 45 and above age group to vaccinate the 18-44 population. The affidavit said though Jharkhand has placed an order for 50 lakh vaccines with manufacturers, both have conveyed difficulty in delivery for at least a month.
Delhi short of 89 lakh Covishield doses
Maharashtra, one of the 10 worst-affected states in the country, requires 12 crore doses to vaccinate its 5.71 crore population in the 18-44 age bracket. While the Pune-based SII has offered it 3 lakh doses for now, Bharat Biotech is ready to supply 85 lakh over the next six months, with 5 lakh doses in May, 10 lakh each in June and July and 2 lakh each in August, September and October.
While Meghalaya has sufficient supply for its 45+ population, it does not have enough for the 18-44 category. The SII is expected to deliver 15 lakh doses in three weeks, it said.
Meanwhile, Nagaland has also approached the SII for Covishield doses, but was told that the company will evaluate its current demand emanating from various state governments and revert “with the best possible supply situation”.
Similarly, the SII has expressed its inability to supply Punjab’s order of 30 lakh vaccines in May. UP has been told by both companies that they would not be able to provide vaccines by May-end. The state’s affidavit said it has a population of 9.28 crore in the 18-44 age group.
In its affidavit, Delhi said it requires 92 lakh doses from 1 May but has received a supply of only 3 lakh from the SII, falling short of 89 lakh doses.
The states and UTs that have been silent so far on vaccine orders are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Puducherry.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mazumdar)