'Provide vaccine to citizens first before exporting it': HC raps Centre

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: On claims made by the Rajasthan government that it will stop administering the first doses of vaccine to beneficiaries from Wednesday due to a shortage, the Centre insisted that the state has not fully utilised the stock supplied to it.

The clarification, however, has not quelled apprehensions that the vaccine supply may be far lesser than required as the pace of vaccination has picked up over the last few days.

“The factual position is that there is no shortage of Covid-19 vaccine with the state at present,” said the Union health ministry.

“Rajasthan has been supplied 37.61 lakh doses and consumed only 24.28 lakh doses till yesterday night.”

The Union government added it is regularly monitoring vaccine supply in all states and UTs, and providing doses as per their requirement and consumption pattern.

Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said that they are left with only 5.85 lakh doses for the next two days.

Vaccination coverage in the state has been among the highest in the country so far. The assurance by the Centre sounds rather weak when numbers are taken into account.

“We have enough stock of vaccines for now, but in weeks to come if there is not enough supply, the situation may change,” said a health ministry official.

With vaccination going on for the elderly and those between 45-59 years with specific comorbidities, there has been a sharp rise in daily vaccinations, more so over the last few weeks.

On Wednesday, more than 2 million doses 20,19,723 to be precise were administered which included 17,15,380 beneficiaries who received their first dose and 3,04,343 who got the second.

Overall, 2,30,08,733 doses have been administered so far since January 16 when the drive started.

As per government, 410 lakh doses of Covishield and Covaxin had been procured for the vaccination drive in the country till a month back.

But if over 10 lakh vaccinations are carried out every day, as has been the trend for a few days, stocks will not last long.

“There are supply issues too,” said a government official.

“Bharat Biotech has not supplied 20 million doses it had agreed to so far and for every dose administered in India, the country is exporting three  doses to other countries. The plan was to keep at least 50 per cent of the doses manufactured in India within the country.”