Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla has told the Maharashtra government that it would not be able to supply Covishield doses to the state until May 26, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday.
Addressing the media, Tope said, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had a telephone conversation with the Serum chief in London on the issue and was informed that they could not give the doses till May 26.”
Tope said, “There should be no doubt that Covid vaccination is our topmost priority and no stone is left unturned to purchase them directly from the manufacturers.” He said the state is ready to purchase a maximum number of doses, as “we have the capability of vaccinating across 5,000 to 7,000 centres and at least 8 lakh to 10 lakh doses daily”.
Until May 6, the state has administered the vaccine to 1.73 lakh beneficiaries.
Tope also flagged the need for urgent supply of Covaxin doses for beneficiaries waiting for their second jabs. “We have urged the Centre time and again to release doses of Covaxin, as 4 lakh to 5 lakh beneficiaries are waiting for their second jabs across the state,” the minister said. “The state has written several letters to the Centre for Covaxin doses. However, if supply does not come on time we have no other option but to divert the doses purchased by the state for the age group 18-44 years, as this group of beneficiaries need the second shot of Covaxin,” Tope said.
The vaccination programme for the 18-44 age group began on May 1 and so far 2.15 lakh people in this group have been vaccinated in the state. For this, the state had purchased 3 lakh Covishield vaccine doses, 4.79 lakh Covaxin doses, and another 3.5 lakh doses of Covishield were awaited.
“Overall we had made arrangement for availability of 7.79 lakh doses for this age group. The pace of vaccination is slow, as there are limited doses, but we are sparing no efforts to ensure adequate availability,” Tope said.
At a review meeting held in Pune on Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar heard grievances from some MLAs regarding beneficiaries from urban areas travelling to rural vaccination centres to get vaccine shots. They complained that people from urban areas, including from Mumbai, were going to peripheral centres around Pune to get the jabs.
According to key officials involved in Covid-19 management in the state, internet connectivity is not steady in rural areas and thus local residents are facing difficulties in getting registered on the CoWin app. While Central allocation of vaccine doses still continues to be limited, several legislators raised the issue of IT-related problems in rural areas.