While the number of positive cases in the capital city soar, the Union Health Ministry’s data shows no doses in the pipeline for Delhi as on May 5; a day before, a press release showed availability of 75,000 doses
With Covid positive numbers soaring in India, the inoculation process seems like the only way to halt the virus’ hold from strengthening. But there is a shortage of vaccines, and the Delhi government which wants to vaccinate its entire population of 2.04 crores in the next three months, has said it can only happen if it receives the vaccines on time.
The Centre on the other hand does not seem to be having any hand in this plan as the Union Health Ministry’s data shows no doses in the pipeline for Delhi as on May 5. A day before this, the press release did show that 75,000 doses were in the pipeline.
The union government has faced criticism, amongst many things on how they have mismanaged the vaccine procurement and allocation to states. While the number of positive cases soar, the states are unable to give the only lifeline available to curtail more people contracting the virus.
Delhi, the capital city is facing 91,859 active cases with 20,960 people positive in the last 24 hours alone. Along with that it’s not just positive cases, its 311 deaths according to the government health bulletin, in the last 24 hours, and many more who would have died in home isolation as hospitals have run out of beds, and a grim situation of low oxygen supply ensues.
According to data available online, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare says from the total 38.4 lakh (38,47,310) doses supplied to Delhi by them, as on May 4 just about 3.34 lakh doses (3,34,003) were left.
About 35 lakhs have been vaccinated so far, with the greater chunk being dose one. According to the Delhi government more than 7 lakh beneficiaries have taken both the doses. The state still has a huge chunk of 45+ to vaccinate (about 60 lakh total) and on top of that, it would make the total number of 18-44 year olds at 1.4 crore.
Till the night of May 5, over a lakh doses (1,28,953) have been administered to those of the age group between 18-44 years in Delhi since vaccination began on May 1.
The Delhi government opened 301 vaccination sites in 76 schools for vaccinating people between 18 and 44 years of age. And the centres have a total capacity of more than 45,000 vaccinations per day.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said on May 5 that the city is not getting enough vaccines, meanwhile it had ordered 67 lakh doses each of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines.
In keeping with its target of vaccinating the entire population in three months, the Delhi government has also passed an order on May 4 for “short term hiring of human resource for Covid vaccination activities.”
The order calls on doctors, nurses, ANMs who “may be hired directly from the panels made for Mohalla clinics/DSHM or through walk-in interviews by the CDMOs.” It also puts down the pay being offered as Rs 1 lakh per month to doctors and Rs 40,000 for nurses/ANMs per month.
But there are still many above the age of 45 who are yet to receive their vaccines. There has also been a reduction in the number of over 45+ residents, who have come for their vaccination, which has been blamed on the current lockdown, which was announced by the chief minister as Delhi has witnessed an astronomical rise in Covid cases — and a healthcare system which has collapsed.
North Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor, Jai Prakash tells us that in his 57 centres there isn’t any lack of vaccines but the centres have witnessed a reduction of about 20-25% vaccinations. “Because of lockdown, the vaccinations have decreased and the 24 x 7 vaccination centres are not of any help because lockdown means people are unable to venture out at night with no transportation available”.
When we questioned him whether there were enough doses to vaccinate people with their second dose, he gave us an unclear response saying, “yes, I have received two doses and most of my staff have.”
He went on to then explain why there was a shortage and how the Delhi government was to be blamed for it. “Earlier people were not getting vaccinated. People thought we would get it later, and then there were 10 different myths around vaccination. Now people know that the vaccine is the only thing that will save. So, now there’s a lot of pressure on the Indian government but they are arranging it. But the state government is unable to do its work…there was no planning. They just know how to put ads in paper.”
The central government has also been accused of the same – for not planning beforehand and placing orders for vaccines. Adar Poonawala, the CEO of Serum Institute producing Covishield in his interview to The Financial Times had said that the government, not his company, was responsible for policy decisions. That the authorities did not expect it would have to face a second wave of the pandemic when new Coronavirus cases had declined and that his Serum Institute did not boost the vaccine production capacity because “there were no orders.”
Serum Institute had in mid-April said that for the next two months, they will “address the limited capacity by scaling up the vaccine production.” In the released statement it had said that 50% of their capacities would serve the Central governments vaccination program, and the remaining 50% of the capacity for the State governments and private hospitals.
Poonawala has also said that after 4-5 months, the vaccines will be made available in retail and free trade.
In total, according to the ministry of Health, the government of India has provided more than 17.15 crore vaccine doses to States/UTs. The population of the country is 1.3 billion.
(Cover: A person aged above the age of 18 is inoculated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre at Radha Soami Satsang grounds being run by BLK-Max hospital on May 4, 2021 in New Delhi, India // Photo via Getty Images)