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Vaccine shortfall leaves capital sore

Sisodia says over 100 vaccination sites for 18-44 age group shut as Delhi did not get Covaxin doses, shares letter from manufacturer

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
May 12, 2021 8:01:41 pm
sara ali khanPeople take Covid-19 vaccine jab at a hospital in New Delhi. (Express Photo)

Over a hundred vaccination sites in 17 Delhi government schools had to be shut Wednesday as Delhi did not get Covaxin doses, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

These sites were vaccinating those in the 18-44 age group.

Sharing the contents of a letter sent by Bharat Biotech, the Covaxin manufacturer, to the Delhi government, Sisodia said the company had told them they would not be able to send them any additional supplies.

The letter, dated May 11, states: “We appreciate your interest in procuring large quantities of Covaxin for the vaccination programme. However, there has been an unprecedented demand for our vaccine and in spite of increasing our production every month, we are unable to keep up with the demand. Further, we are making dispatches as per the directives of the concerned Government officials. We therefore sincerely regret that we cannot make any additional supplies as required by you.”

The letter is signed by Krishna Ella, chairperson, Bharat Biotech International Limited.

“This document has made it crystal clear that the central government decides which state will receive how much vaccine. If the central government has the final say in distribution of vaccine to states, then it plays a key role in ensuring that demands of all states, with regard to vaccine requirement, are taken into account instead of being overlooked. Because there is massive scarcity of vaccines at present in Delhi, we have had to shut more than 100 centres in 17 Delhi government schools where Covaxin was being administered. This persistent shortage of vaccine may lead to further worsening of the crisis,” Sisodia said.

Delhi has seen the highest case load among any city in the country, crossing 28,000 cases in a single day in April. It has also seen the highest number of deaths in a day, with the number crossing 400 on several occasions last month. Cases have started dipping gradually, with 13,287 new cases recorded on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 1,28,800 vaccine doses were administered in the city, 54,761 to those in the 18-44 age bracket. On Thursday morning, only 16,900 doses of Covaxin were left.

The city got 2.67 lakh doses of Covishield doses on Tuesday evening, taking the city’s total stock delivered so far since May 1 (for the 18-44 group) to 8,17,690.

The government had written to the two manufacturers last month, expressing interest in buying 67 lakh doses each from both.

Sisodia on Wednesday appealed to the Centre to “take cognizance of the severity of this crisis and play the role of a government for the people of this nation”.

“The need of the hour is for the central government to pass a global tender to procure vaccines instead of asking individual states to pass tenders for vaccines. Although states are willing to pass tenders if the need arises, it is important for the world to see India as one entity instead of a divided nation-state. After all, it is the responsibility of the central government to ensure availability of vaccines to all states while states make sure that all citizens are vaccinated in a swift manner, within three months after receiving vaccine from the central government,” he said.

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