Hospitals across Maharashtra saw vaccine stocks dry up and in many placespeople who were coming in to be vaccinated were turned away.

Since Wednesday, the State Health Minister, Rajesh Tope has been saying that the supplies will only last two days and the State needs 40 lakh vaccines, about a week’s requirement, urgently. Tope in a press conference had said that many centres in Western Maharashtra and even Panvel near Mumbai had to be shut due to lack of vaccines.

At the time of going to press the State Health Department has not released the exact number of vaccinated person or the number of centres closed down. But available information shows that 3.54 lakh beneficiaries in the identified categories had been vaccinated on Thursday taking the total number of vaccinated persons to 93.45 lakh in Maharashtra.

A former director of a large public hospital in Maharashtra said that stocks were at normal levels at the beginning of the vaccination campaign, but in the last one week they have started drying up and there is no clarity when stocks will be replenished.

Central control

Immediate past President of Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra), Avinash Bhondwe, said that the problem is because the whole process of vaccine procurement and distribution is solely done by the Centre, which does not have a clear vaccine distribution policy. For a country of 1.3 billion people, just two companies supplying vaccines from two facilities is not practical. The vaccination drive should be open, and it should be done on a huge scale, he said

There is also an element of politics involved as it can seen that due to elections some States got more supplies and Maharashtra did not receive enough stocks, he accused.

Vaccine distribution should be uniform and without any political interference. The process of vaccination is also hamstrung because it is available only in select hospitals and clinics. Therefore, the campaign should be more broad based and newer vaccines such as Sputnik should be considered for the mass vaccination, he said.