Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: PTI
New Delhi: The inoculation drive for 18-44 year-olds came was halted in Delhi on Saturday due to a shortage of vaccines, with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal saying it would take 30 months to vaccinate people this age group if the supply crisis continues.
The chief minister also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to ensure immediate supply of jabs and increase the quota for Delhi.
As the country faces a shortage of vaccines, Kejriwal gave four suggestions to Modi, including procurement of vaccines from foreign manufacturers and inviting firms for production in India.
In an online press conference, Kejriwal said that from Sunday, all vaccination centres for youths in Delhi will be closed as stocks have run out.
Delhi requires 80 lakh doses a month to vaccinate people in three months. But it only received 16 lakh doses in May and the Centre has further decreased Delhi’s quota in June to 8 lakh doses, Kejriwal said.
So far, 50 lakh people have been vaccinated in Delhi. Further, 2.5 crore more doses are required to vaccinate all adults in Delhi, he said.
With this speed of 8 lakh doses per month, it will take 30 months to vaccinate all the adults alone. By then, no one knows how many waves will arrive and how many deaths will occur,” Kejriwal said, urging the prime minister to raise the quota and supply to the city immediately.
Releasing the Delhi’s vaccination bulletin, AAP MLA Atishi said that all centres administering vaccines to the 18-44 age group will be temporarily shut after Saturday due to the shortage.
“After today, the entire vaccination programme for this group will be temporarily stopped in government schools,” she said.
According to the government, 50, 20,214 doses have been administered to people in Delhi, which proves that a large population has been inoculated because of the high speed vaccination programme.
Nearly 88 sites administering Covishield to 18-44 will be shut after today. Humble appeal to the centre to facilitate vaccines at the earliest to Delhi, they should allow manufacturers to supply more vaccines to Delhi.
“Nearly 670 centres are operational in 499 locations for 45 plus age group category, healthcare, frontline workers. For 45+, healthcare/frontline workers, Covaxin’s stock is left for less than one day, and Covishield’s stock will last for 8 days,” AAP MLA Atishi said.
During the online media briefing on Saturday, Kejriwal said the Central government should within 24 hours direct all capable companies in the country to start manufacturing Covaxin as Bharat Biotech has agreed to share its formula.
Vaccines manufactured abroad should be used in India and the Centre needs to procure vaccines on the behalf of states as it will be more effective in bulk procurement, Kejriwal said.
Foreign companies should be allowed to manufacture vaccines in India and the Centre should try to get vaccines from such countries that have stocks of more doses than their need, he suggested.
Vaccination of maximum number of people in the shortest time is the only way to save Delhi and the country from the third wave of coronavirus, Kejriwal asserted.
“We are arranging beds, oxygen and medicines, but vaccine is the most effective weapon of protection against the fatal virus.”
The shortage of vaccine is not just a matter of worry for the governments, but common people are also scared due to this crisis, he claimed.
It has caused a very difficult situation in the country, Kejriwal said and narrated a call he had received from an elderly mother who requested vaccine for his son foregoing the jab herself, saying he needed it more than her because he had a job to take care of the family.
I was deeply pained hearing this. There could be nothing more painful than this “dharmsankat” (dilemma) before a father, mother, brother or sister — whether to have the vaccine or give it up for a younger member in the family,” he said.
Kejriwal said it was a matter of relief that that the speed of coronavirus spread has slowed down significantly in Delhi, but cautioned that it did not mean the threat was averted and emphasised on maintaining all the precautions.
On Saturday, Delhi recorded 2,260 fresh COVID-19 cases and 182 fatalities on Saturday, with the positivity rate in the city slipping to 3.58 per cent.
This is the lowest daily spike in cases recorded since March 31 (1,819) and the first time that the count has gone below the 3,000-mark since April 1, when 2,790 people tested positive for the viral disease.