Vaccination suspended in Mumbai for three days as stocks run out; more states flag jab shortage

By PTI
MUMBAI: No vaccination against COVID-19 will be held in Mumbai for the next three days as the existing stock of doses has been exhausted, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said on Thursday evening.

The vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group, which was supposed to start from May 1 earlier, was likely to be deferred too, it said in a statement.

Currently those above 45 years of age are being inoculated.

“The BMC will not hold any vaccination camp on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because existing stock has been exhausted. With this, the civic body is likely to postpone its vaccination drive for 18-44 age category beyond May 1,” the statement said.

If fresh supplies were received, vaccination will resume, it added.

There are 63 civic-run vaccination centres in the city besides 73 centres run by private hospitals.

The corporation also stressed that those in the above-45 category should not fear that they will not be inoculated once the drive for the 18-44 age group begins.

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“Both are different programmes, and whenever vaccine doses are available, the priority will be for the above-45 age category,” the civic body said.

It also said that those who have received the first jab of vaccine should not worry if there is a longer hiatus before they get the second dose.

“If there is a longer gap, the body develops some anti-bodies against COVID-19,” the statement said.

“We were told on Wednesday night that we would get around 75,000 vials of vaccine. With such a low supply, the BMC opened only some vaccination centres while others were kept closed (on Thursday),” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner.

“Out of the total stock, we have used up some 50,000 vials till this evening. If we do not get more doses, we will have to suspend the vaccination drive,” he had told reporters earlier in the day.

As per the Maharashtra Health Department, only 26,610 people received the jab in the country’s financial capital on Wednesday.

On Thursday, long lines were seen outside vaccination centres.

Though the vaccination begins at 12 noon, at several centres people queue up from as early as six in the morning, said an official.

The civic body allowed eligible persons to walk in at vaccination centres without registering themselves on the Co- WIN app.

This also added to the rush.

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“Limited supply is one reason for long queues. Earlier people hesitated to get the jab. But with growing number of COVID-19 deaths, there has been a surge at vaccination centres,” the official said.

Many people complained that they could not receive the dose.

“We have been standing here for more than three hours but the queue is not moving at all. We are not sure whether we will get a dose today,” said 54-year-old Smriti Bindra at the Nesco vaccination centre in Goregaon.

Senior citizens need not stand in long queues as vaccine is in short supply “only for now”, tweeted additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Bhide.

“But be rest assured that all 45 plus years citizens will eventually get vaccinated,” she added.

Several states, including Punjab, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday said they do not have sufficient doses of vaccine for the inoculation of those in the 18-44 age group, and indicated that they may miss the May 1 launch date of the drive.

The Health Minister of Delhi, one of the worst COVID-hit cities in the country,  said the city “does not have vaccines” for the third phase and purchase orders have been placed with the manufacturers.

Later, officials said Delhi will procure 67 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine from Serum Institute and the first tranche of three lakh doses will be delivered by May 3,  Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh are among the states which have already raised the issue of vaccine shortage even for the ongoing inoculation drive for those above 45 years of age.

However, denying that there was any shortage of vaccine, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday said  more than 1 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with states and UTs and they will receive over 20 lakh more doses within the next 3 days.

The ministry also said the cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country was over 15 crore so far.

As per reports, Serum Institute’s current manufacturing capacity is 6-7 crore doses per month while Bharat Biotech made around 2 crore doses in April as against 1.5 crore  doses in March.

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India is facing a debilitating surge in coronavirus cases and has been recording more than 3.5 lakh fresh COVID cases on a daily basis for the past few days.

On Thursday, the country registered nearly 3.8 lakh new coronavirus infections, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to over 1.

83 crore, while active cases crossed the 30-lakh mark,  Claiming that shortage of COVID-19 jabs may disrupt plans to immunize all adults from 1 May, several states, including Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have said the process to vaccinate people in 18-44 age group will begin once they get substantial number of vaccines from pharmaceutical companies.

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the vaccination drive for all above 18 years in the state may get delayed as there were not enough doses of the COVID vaccine.

“We are not getting adequate doses of vaccines. That is why we are facing problems. We have staff and required infrastructure for vaccination,” Sidhu told reporters.

Asked whether the state health authorities will be able to start the vaccination drive for the 18 plus age group from May 1, the minister said, “I feel that we may not start by that time.”

Asserting that the state government has made all the necessary arrangements for giving vaccines to those over 18 years free of cost, a statement from the Gujarat government said,”the vaccination process will start once the state receives substantial numbers of vaccine doses from pharma companies.

A senior official of Telangana health department said though the state government is in touch with vaccine manufacturers, there is no certainty on when the stocks would be available for the mass vaccination.

“We are in touch with the manufacturers also. We are in search of the vaccine. We require around four crore doses,” Telangana Public Health Director G Srinivasa Rao told PTI.

According to a senior official in Andhra Pradesh government, inoculation may not start on May 1 in the state as planned due to delay in procurement of vaccine from manufacturers.

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The state government has already written to the manufacturers for vaccine supplies and yet to get confirmation from them, the official added.

An official release from Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s office said as per the availability of stocks, the complete vaccination process for the age group (18 to 44 years) in the country will not be completed until January next year.

Odisha is facing acute shortage of Covishield vaccines forcing people to wait for second dose of the jab for a week time, official sources said Thursday.

Against the requirement of 6.3 lakh doses of Covishield to give second dose to beneficiaries, the state is having only 1.1 lakh doses of this variety,a senior official in the Health and Family Welfare department said.

“We are unable to give a second dose to 45 plus age group. The state require at least 6.3 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine for the beneficiaries who are waiting for the next dose,” the official said.

Keeping in view the prevailing shortage of vaccines, the state government is not sure whether it can start the third phase of vaccination from May 1.

“We can make a plan for this phase after getting to know about the vaccine stock available with the state government,” Director of Family Welfare Bijay Panigrahi said.

Due to shortfall of Covishield, the government has decided not to conduct inoculation in at least five districts such as Boudh, Jharsuguda, Koraput, Sambalpur and Subarnapur on Friday.

However, there are 3,34,500 Covaxin doses available with the state.

While people across the state are administered Covishield vaccine, the citizens of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation area are getting Covaxin.

Due to shortage of the Covishield vaccines, the state on Thursday conducted inoculation only in 288 centres including 61 sites for Covaxin.

There was no vaccination session in Balasore, Bhadrak, Boudh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Kendrapada, Keonjhar, Khurda, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, and Puri districts on Thursday due to non-availability of doses.

The state government has also stopped its inoculation programme on weekends across the state due to shortage of vaccines, he said.

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As many as 57,76,371 people including 27,602 on Thursday, have so far been inoculated, he said.

Meanwhile, ahead of the third phase of COVID vaccination programme from May 1 in the country, more than 3.94 lakh people within the age group of 18-44 years from the state have already registered themselves online for the jabs.

Of the registered persons, as many as 1,19,511 people are aged between 18 and 30 years and 2,75,633 people in the age bracket from 30 to 44 years.

Registration for the third phase of COVID vaccination for anyone above 18 years of age began at 4 pm on April 28.

The registration is being done on www.cowin.gov. in, Aarogya Setu App and UMANG App.

Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Family Welfare P K Mohapatra has written to CMD Serum Institute of India to provide 40 Lakh Doses in May and 60 Lakh Doses during June, July and August.

While one crore doses of Covishield will be required for the entire state during next four months, the state government has also placed orders for 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin with Bharat Biotech.

The state government has said that the supply of vaccine doses should start immediately and timeline has also been given.

By May 31, 2021, 5 Lakh doses and by June 15 rest 5.34 Lakh doses of Covaxin are needed to reach the central drug store of the state, said a senior official.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on 25 April announced free vaccination for all.

Immediately after Patnaiks announcement, the state government placed its orders for 387.34 doses of vaccine to be supplied to Odidsh in earlier dates.

While the state required 377 Lakh of Covishield vaccine doses, its Covaxin requirement is 10.34 lakh, official sources said.

The state government has targeted to spend Rs 2,000 crore towards vaccination of 2 crore people in the state.

The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across the country has crossed 15.21 crore with over 20 lakh shots being given till 8 pm on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said.

Also, the total registrations on CoWIN portal for phase three vaccination has crossed 2.28 crore in just two days, according to data till 9:30 pm, it said.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country stands at 15,21,05,563 according to the 8 pm provisional report.

These include 93,85,676 healthcare and 1,24,12,904 frontline workers who have taken the first dose and 61,89,635 healthcare 67,04,193 frontline workers who have taken the second shot.

In the age group of 45 to 60 years, 5,17,23,607 got the first dose and 34,02,049 the second dose, while 5,18,72,503 senior citizens got first dose of the vaccine and 1,04,14,996 got the second shot.

A total of 20,84,931 vaccine doses were given on Thursday till 8 pm out of which 11,82,563 beneficiaries got the first dose and 9,02,368 the second dose according to the provisional report, the ministry said, adding final reports for the day would be completed by late in the night.