Updated: May 7, 2021 7:37:28 pm
Senior citizens and others, who have received the first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine in the initial phases of the vaccination programme, were getting anxious as they were finding it difficult to take the second jab due to the scarcity of vaccines in the state caused by issues in supply, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said in Pune on Friday. He also said the state government will consider prioritising administering the second jab for senior citizens over providing the first dose to the younger population.
Pawar held the weekly Covid-19 review meeting at the Council Hall in Pune on Friday. The meeting was attended by senior officials of the district administration, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations, as well as elected representatives from all political parties.
“There are 22 lakh citizens in Pune district who were qualified to obtain the vaccine in the first two phases. These citizens are aware that they have to take the second dose of the vaccine after four to six weeks of the first jab. They are getting anxious as it has become difficult to access vaccination due to the shortage caused by lack of supply. Hence, I will speak to my colleagues in the cabinet about prioritising administering of the second dose to people who have received the first jab and are now eligible to receive the second,” said Pawar.
He reiterated that the Union government’s decision to export domestically-made vaccines before launching the vaccination drive in India was a mistake. “Russia is exporting vaccines now but even they have achieved a significant degree of vaccination at home. In India, on the other hand, the government exported vaccines even before the drive started at home,” said Pawar… “it was an extremely wrong decision.”
“Maharashtra has 5.71 crore citizens in the 18-44 age group. We need 12 crore vaccines to give them two jabs each. There are others over 45, who are waiting for a second dose. Serum and Bharat Biotech have limited capacity and even now, 50 per cent of their vaccine output is supposed to go to the central government and the remaining 50 per cent is for all the states and union territories,” said Pawar, adding that though Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute has started working on vaccine manufacturing, it was unlikely to bring any immediate relief.
“In Pune district, we have a capacity to administer one lakh vaccines in a day and we had reached 85,000 in a day. But we are not getting enough vaccines. If we get enough vaccines, we can vaccinate the entire state in one-and-a half months. Vaccination helps greatly in controlling Covid-19, as has been shown in other countries,” said Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of Pune.
He said that during the meeting, he tried contacting Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla but couldn’t get in touch with him. “I was told by his staff that Adar is abroad and he will return only after 10-12 days. I will try to procure his London number and get in touch with him to discuss vaccine delivery for Maharashtra,” said Pawar.
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