As Delhi’s vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group came to a halt on Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said if vaccination in Delhi proceeds at its current pace, it will take 30 months to cover the entire population of the city.
He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting ways to increase vaccine production.
With cases in the city dipping, the state government has been emphasising on vaccination. But with supplies running out for the month, the process has now come to a halt. On Saturday, the city saw around 2,260 cases and a positivity rate of 3.58%.
According to Kejriwal, while Delhi got 16 lakh vaccines in May, it is expected to get only 8 lakh in June.
“We have managed to vaccinate (administer at least one shot to) 50 lakh people so far. If we have to vaccinate the whole of Delhi’s population, we need at 2.5 crore more doses. If we go at the slow rate that we are at right now, it will take at least 30 months to complete vaccination. In that much time, I don’t know how many waves we will see and how many people we will lose… Delhi needs 80 lakh vaccine doses a month,” Kejriwal said.
He said vaccination centres will reopen as soon as more vaccines are made available.
He also gave four suggestions to the Prime Minister to adopt in order to quicken the pace of the ongoing vaccination drive. “Vaccines are the best weapon to fight Covid. I would like to give four suggestions to the Centre. Bharat Biotech has agreed to share the formula (of Covaxin) with other manufacturers. There are many companies in the country that can produce vaccines. The Centre must order, not request, them to start production on a war-footing,” he said.
He also said that approvals for foreign vaccines should be granted within 24 hours and the Centre, not states, should hold talks with them.
“The Centre should allow all approved foreign vaccines in the country within 24 hours and should hold talks with them. At present, states are negotiating with them. Does this look good? Maharashtra is fighting with Haryana and Delhi is fighting with Maharashtra on the international stage. Vaccine producers will take the Centre very seriously and our government can also talk to their governments directly. The size of the order will also be bigger then,” Kejriwal said.
States such as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have already floated global tenders for vaccines. Delhi is also floating a tender for 1 crore vaccines, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had told The Indian Express. The Delhi government, however, has been critical of the Centre’s assertion that states should negotiate with vaccine producers themselves.
Kejriwal also said there have been reports of some countries holding on to more vaccine doses than required for their population. “They should be requested to give the extra vaccines to India,” he wrote in the letter.
The CM’s last suggestion was that foreign vaccine companies be allowed to manufacture in India.
Kejriwal said he had spoken to an old woman who requested him that she and her son be vaccinated as they were facing problems. “She is 65 years old and her son is 35. I told her that she can get vaccinated but her son can’t. She said I should take her vaccine and give it to her son as he had to go out for work every day and his exposure levels are higher. People should not be forced to think about these things at a time like this. No mother or father or sister should be faced with this tough situation… We have lost many young people in this wave and it is their quota of vaccines that has run out,” he said.
On Friday, a total of 48,628 people were given a shot of vaccines. As of Saturday morning, Delhi had a stock of a little over 22,000 doses left. Before the shortage was apparent, Delhi was vaccinating over 1 lakh people a day.