COVID-19: Many states rush to import vaccines amid acute shortage
Facing acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines amid the raging second wave, at least 10 Indian states have decided to reach out to international vaccine manufacturers to fast-track the inoculation drive. On Tuesday, Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Uttarakhand decided to issue global tenders to procure vaccines. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Odisha reportedly floated global tenders for vaccines. Here's more.
Domestic supply of vaccines failed to meet rising demand
The states have decided to import coronavirus vaccines as domestic supply has failed in meeting the rising demand in the second wave. The Centre so far provided over 18 crore vaccines to states/Union Territories for free, but many are complaining of acute shortage. However, the Union Health Ministry said states/UTs have over 90 lakh doses available, adding they will receive 7.29 lakh additional doses within three days.
Shortage forcing states to delay vaccination of 18-44 age group
Last month, to ramp up the country's vaccination drive, the Centre announced those between 18-44 years will be administered vaccines from May 1. However, the shortage has now forced many states to delay immunization of people in the 18-44 years age group. Due to lack of supplies and uncertainty of vaccine availability, states are only prioritizing people above 45 years awaiting their second dose.
125 vaccination centers in national capital to shut over shortage
Delhi's Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said the state government will issue a global tender for vaccines. The national capital is reeling under a severe shortage due to which 125 vaccination centers in Delhi would be closed. Delhi CM Kejriwal wrote to the Centre, saying vaccine formulas of Covishield and COVAXIN should be shared by manufacturers with other capable companies to increase production.
Maharashtra prioritizes vaccination of those above 45 years
The situation in Maharashtra—which is also looking to import vaccines—is no different as it decided to postpone vaccination of people aged 18-44 years, diverting their doses to inoculate those above 45 years awaiting second doses to avoid a major health crisis. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, "Efficacy of the vaccine is largely affected if the second dose is not administered in a stipulated time."
BMC to procure 50 lakh doses through global tenders
To ensure vaccination of eligible beneficiaries in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been directed to consider global procurement of vaccines. The civic body is likely to issue a global tender this week for importing 50 lakh doses to boost the inoculation drive.
Karnataka to procure 2 crore doses from foreign companies
Karnataka decided to import two crore COVID-19 vaccines through global tenders to address the shortage, facilitating vaccination of people above 18 years, Deputy CM and state COVID-19 task force head, CN Ashwath Narayan, told NDTV. "Till now, we had depended only on vaccines supplied by the Centre...We have been instructed to float the tender and to complete the process within seven days," he said.
AP CM writes to PM Modi to boost vaccine production
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will also invite global tenders for procuring COVID-19 vaccines to meet the demand. "We are exploring the option of buying the vaccine from any foreign manufacturer...there is a short supply of Covishield and COVAXIN," said Andhra Pradesh's Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal. CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy also wrote to PM Narendra Modi, suggesting measures to boost domestic production.
Uttar Pradesh issues e-tenders for 4 crore vaccines
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Odisha have already issued global tenders. Odisha asked the Centre to exempt imported vaccines from tax liabilities to reduce the financial burden. Earlier in May, Uttar Pradesh floated global e-tenders for four crore doses. The state is likely to get a large number of Sputnik V doses as well as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Best way to protect precious lives: Odisha Chief Secretary
Odisha plans to vaccinate the state's entire population. "Complete vaccination is the best way to protect precious lives of the people. Therefore, the Cabinet allowed the state government to go for global tender and get vaccines at the earliest," Odisha's Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra said.