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Centre blames states for dip in vaccination, says supply on course

While states like Rajasthan and Delhi have claimed vaccine shortage, newly appointed Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in his first statement on vaccine numbers, said they were on target to make available 13.5 crore doses for July.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: July 15, 2021 7:12:11 am
A vaccination queue in Mumbai Wednesday. The state reported 8,602 new coronavirus cases and 170 deaths on Wednesday, taking the caseload to 61,81,247 and toll to 1,26,390. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

WITH daily vaccination numbers seeing a fall from the peak in end June, when the policy shifted to procurement by the Centre and free shots for all, the government Wednesday claimed that availability of Covid vaccines was on course.

While states like Rajasthan and Delhi have claimed vaccine shortage, newly appointed Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in his first statement on vaccine numbers, said they were on target to make available 13.5 crore doses for July.

He also blamed “mismanagement” for the long queues outside vaccination centres, saying the Centre had passed along advance information to states on vaccine availability. “If… long queues of vaccination beneficiaries are being seen, it is clearly evident what the real issue is and who is responsible for this state of affairs.”

It was on June 21 that the new policy, with the Centre procuring vaccines for all government centres and offering these for free to beneficiaries, was rolled out. Between June 21 and 30, the country reported a daily average of 54.88 lakh vaccinations. However, in the first two weeks of July, this has dropped to an average 37.63 lakh doses.

Explained

Vaccine woes

A new team at the helm in the Health Ministry, the Centre has moved fast to dispel any blame coming to it, amidst visuals of beneficiaries crowding vaccination centres and states talking shortage again.

In a series of tweets, Mandaviya said that the Centre had informed all states by June 19 about the vaccines to be made available for July. Subsequently, on June 27 and July 13, he said, states were informed about the availability of vaccines every day for the first and second fortnight of July. This was done for states to plan the vaccination drive “in a better and effective manner”, the minister said.

Mandaviya tweeted, “To enable vaccination through Government and Private hospitals, 11.46 crore vaccine doses were made available to State governments and Union Territories in June 2021 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This availability has been increased to 13.50 crore doses in the month of July.”

The surge following the June 21 change in policy was due to the unutilised 2.98 crore doses with states at the time. By end of June, the cumulative supply to states stood at 32.13 crore doses.

On July 1, Health Ministry data showed cumulative supply at 32.92 crore doses, while on Wednesday, July 14, this was 39.59 crore. It effectively means that from July 1 to 14, 6.67 crore doses were supplied to states. At daily average of 37.63 lakh vaccinations, this figure would imply more than 1 crore doses remain unutilised with states and private hospitals.

Significantly, at a review meeting held Wednesday with 15 states hit hard by Covid, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan raised the issue of “the slow pace of vaccination” at private centres, calling this “a cause of serious worry”. Unlike government centres, private ones charge for vaccines.

The 15 states represented at the meeting were Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.

The states were told to facilitate procurement by private centres, review status of vaccines with them on a daily basis, to ensure that they raise indent regarding the earmarked supply, and to lift their allotted supplies quickly. The Health Ministry also said that in some states, more vaccines had been picked up than administered, and that the authorities must ensure that the unutilised doses were used quickly.

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