People in the 18-44 age group won’t be able to get Covaxin shots in Delhi from Thursday as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that its manufacturer Bharat Biotech has refused to provide “additional” vaccine doses to the city government, a development that is likely to hamper the inoculation drive severely in the national capital. Stocks of the other coronavirus vaccine — Covishield, will last only nine days, AAP MLA Atishi said while releasing vaccination bulletin of the city.
As Covaxin’s stock finished, the Delhi government temporarily closed down around 100 centres administering the vaccine on Wednesday. The AAP MLA said that there are four days of Covaxin left for frontline workers and those above 45, while Covishield stock will last three days for such category.
Addressing an online press briefing on Wednesday, Sisodia said, “The Covaxin manufacturer has in a letter said that it cannot provide the Delhi government vaccines due to unavailability, under instruction of government officials concerned. It means that the central government is controlling supply of the vaccine.” However, Joint Secretary in the Union health ministry Lav Agarwal on Tuesday denied that the Centre had any role to play in the purchase of vaccines by the states. Sisodia accused the Centre of vaccine mismanagement and reiterated that exporting 6.5 crore doses to foreign countries was the “biggest mistake”.
The Delhi government had ordered 67 lakh doses each of Covishield and Covaxin on April 26, the deputy chief minister said. According to the Delhi government figures, it has received 1.5 lakh Covaxin and 4 lakh Covishield doses so far to vaccinate people in the 18-44 age group.
Till now, a total of 48.7 lakh doses of both the vaccines have been received for various categories of beneficiaries, it showed. “I had already said exporting 6.5 crore doses to foreign countries was the biggest mistake. It would have been sufficient to vaccinate everyone in Delhi and Mumbai with two doses each,” Sisodia added.
During the online briefing, he read the letter received from Bharat Biotech, which said, “…we are making dispatches as per the directions of the government officials concerned. We therefore sincerely regret that we cannot make any additional supplies as required by you.” The letter written by Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella, on May 11, to the Delhi government’s principal secretary (health and family welfare) also mentioned “unprecedented demand” of Covaxin. Bharat Biotech’s letter referred to another note written to it by the Delhi government on May 7 regarding supply of Covaxin.
Meanwhile, during a press briefing, AAP leader Atishi, an MLA from the Kalkaji constituency, said that Delhi received 2.67 lakh more doses of Covishield vaccine on May 11. “Around 16,000 Covaxin doses, which were available in the morning, were administered at 44 centres. These centres will also be shut after Wednesday evening,” the AAP MLA said.
Atishi hoped that the central government would intervene and make Covaxin doses available for the 18-44 age category. “Soon it will be time to give the second dose of Covaxin to beneficiaries in this category,” she added.
There are 4.18 lakh Covishield doses left for people in the 18-44 age group. These can last up to nine days, she added. “However, there will be no Covaxin doses left for the 18-44 age group after Wednesday evening and all such centres will be temporarily shut,” she said.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana said Bharat Biotech’s letter cited by Sisodia has “exposed” his claim that the city government ordered 67 lakh Covaxin doses on April 26. “The reality is they wrote letter of intent to Bharat Biotech on April 26. Sisodia should disclose what the Delhi government wrote to Bharat Biotech in its May 7 letter,” he said.
The deputy chief minister also said that the Centre should stop export of vaccines and share the vaccine formulae of the two manufacturers in the country with other companies for mass scale production. He also urged the Union government to approve vaccines available in the international market for use in India, and direct states to vaccinate everyone within three months.
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