Vax 3.0 set for patchy start today, with most States low on supplies

Our Bureaus New Delhi | Updated on April 30, 2021

A notice in front of a vaccination centre in Mumbai is telling   -  KUNAL PATIL

The rollout of the expanded Covid-19 vacination programme across India is set for a patchy start tomorrow, with several high-burden States running low on supplies.

Authorities in Delhi, Karnataka, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh indicated the rollout would be delayed till fresh vaccine stocks arrive.

Vaccination drive for 18-44 will ‘grow and stabilise’, says Health Ministry official

Gujarat, however, is planning targeted vaccination in high-risk districts. Though low on stocks, Maharashtra is likely to have a symbolic vaccination programme tomorrow to mark its foundation day. Uttar Pradesh is set to start vaccinations tomorrow in the seven most affected districts. Rajasthan too has said it would start the expanded vaccination programme tomorrow.

The expanded vaccination programme from May 1 follows a directive from the Centre that allowed vaccine-makers to sell half their capacities to States and private hospitals at pre-determined prices. But with vaccine-makers not having enough stocks to supply the States and private hospitals, the programme is off to a slow start. This is even as the country registered its highest number of active cases and deaths on any single day.

The inoculation drive from May 1 will take-off in States that have coordinated with the vaccine manufacturers, and it will grow gradually and stablilise, said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, in a briefing on Friday.

Tamil Nadu not in a position to kick-start the vaccination for 18-44 years from May 1

Will take time to stabilise

“Any process which is started takes time to stabilise and grow. The vaccination drive will start in those States where they have coordinated with the vaccine manufacturers. The free vaccination programme by the Central government will continue at the same speed,” said Agarwal, adding that the Centre has already provided more than 15 crore free doses and it will continue.

Some private hospitals said they had told the Centre that they would source vaccines from the State as the vaccine-makers did not have supplies for them up to June/July.

However, hospital networks such as Apollo, Max and Fortis are set to start the vaccination programme tomorrow, insiders said. The Apollo Hospitals Group said that it would inoculate from tomorrow and has made arrangements to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers.

Alongside, the differential pricing of vaccines to the States and private hospitals continued to draw flak.

The price of vaccines will be in line with rates already announced, at ₹1,200 per dose and ₹600 per dose for Covaxin and Covishield, respectively, said an industry source.

Don’t queue-up: CMs

Several Chief Ministers urged people to not crowd vaccination centres tomorrow.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Vaccines have not reached us till now. We are in touch with the manufacturers and the first batch of 3 lakh doses of Covishield is likely to arrive in a day or two. Hence, I would request people not to line up at vaccination centres tomorrow (Saturday), Once we receive the doses, I will formally announce the date of launch of the mega vaccination drive.”

Tamil Nadu indicated it may not be in a position to start the vaccination drive for the 18-44-year set from may due to non-availability of vaccine, said Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan. The State government has ordered 1.5 crore doses. However, there is no clarity on the supply yet, he told newspersons.

“We are ready to administer the vaccines for the 18-45 set. However, without the supply, it is not possible to start the drive from May 1,” said Radhakrishnan.

“This is simply out of question so long as we don't have adequate stock of the vaccine with us,” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons on Friday.

Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar appealed to people to not crowd hospitals as the inoculation drive would not begin from May 1.

The West Bengal government said stocks from the Centre are yet to come in and the vaccination drive was now expected to start from May 5. According to Health Ministry data, more than 2.45 crore beneficiaries had registered on the Co-WIN digital platform till 9:30 am on Friday for inoculation.

Published on April 30, 2021

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