Vaccine paucity: Maharashtra suspends inoculation of 18-44 age group
Due to the acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to suspend the drive to vaccinate those in the age group of 18 to 44 and divert the available stock for the vaccination of the above-45 age group, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said. The decision was taken during the state cabinet meeting, he added.
Insufficient vaccine vials available for the above-45 age group
The minister claimed that the Serum Institute of India (SII) has informed the Maharashtra government that it would be able to provide 1.5 crore Covishield vaccine doses to the state only from May 20. "The Centre has not made sufficient vaccine vials available for the above-45 age group people. Hence, the state cabinet decided to divert the 18-45 group's stock," he said.
Around 20 lakh people are waiting for second dose: Tope
While the Covishield vaccine is manufactured by Pune-based SII, COVAXIN is produced by Bharat Biotech. On Tuesday, Tope had alleged that the Union government was not providing an adequate number of vaccine doses to states. "There are some 20 lakh people who have not received their second dose of vaccine. As per the scientific advisory, we cannot delay their inoculation further," he said.
Ten lakh vials meant for 18-44 group will be diverted
Around 16 lakh persons in Maharashtra are waiting to get a second jab of Covishield while the rest are waiting for COVAXIN. To meet this requirement, around ten lakh vials meant for the 18-44 age group will be diverted. Asked about the state's plans to purchase vaccines from the global market, Tope pointed out that the Centre needs to approve them first.
'Centre needs to approve international vaccines before states can purchase'
"The Union government has to first approve these vaccines, only then a state can purchase vaccines from the global market," Tope said. "Vaccines of Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson require lower storage temperatures. Covishield and Covaxin vials can be stored at 2-8 degree Celsius, but other vaccines need temperatures below zero," the minister noted.