In the shadow of the rising cases of COVID, May 1, the otherwise Labour day holiday, was being eagerly awaited for the promise to deliverance with a vaccine dose for those who are 18 years and above as part of the third phase of the vaccination drive in India. That is some 595 million people getting the first dose (out of a total of over 1 billion doses that they will get in two instalments). But then, several state governments seem woefully short of the vaccines they need.
One senior official of a leading state, who did not wish to be identified, said, just about 300,000 doses each to select states have been made available. This is far short of what is required for most states with at least the target populations ranging between 10 to 20 million, if not more. Maharashtra, where May 1 is in any case important as the Maharashtra formation day, is one of these states. Apparently, vaccine-makers, have already been inundated with demands and are all busy sending supplies to select states, especially those that have been facing a high caseload. Financial Express Online learns reliably that Serum Institute of India, the leading vaccine-maker, which makes the Covishield vaccine, has supplied 300,000 doses each to about five states – Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh. Though now, there are names of Odisha and Uttar Pradesh also being mentioned where vaccination is to happen.
Some leading hospital chains have also been able to procure the vaccines and these are getting deployed. Apollo Hospitals, for instance, has started opening the 18 to 44-year-old vaccination slots and it will be rolled out across different cities in phases. Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals Group told Financial Express Online: “The vaccinations have started and we currently have stock for 10 days. We were committed to making this happen.” The vaccines, she says, were procured directly from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. She also added that pre-registration and selection of the vaccination centre through the use of a pin code (OTP) on the Co-Win app was mandatory.
It is also learnt that some hospitals have huge capacities to dish out vaccines though the limitations can only be the availability of doses. For instance, Apollo apparently has a capacity to do 100,000 to 125,000 vaccinations per day across its system nationally. This can be further ramped up when the pressure due to COVID is reduced as it could free up more nurses and paramedics for the vaccination drive.