Vaccination was stopped in Maharashtra’s Satara – late Wednesday night – after district authorities ran out of doses, according to Vinay Gouda, the Chief Executive Officer of the Satara Zilla Parishad.
So far around 2.6 lakh people over the age of 45 in Satara have received at least one dose each.
This comes hours after state Health Minister Rajesh Tope flagged the issue of fast-depleting stocks across the state – he said this would happen within three days – and asked the centre for help.
“Stocks of vaccine in the state remain only for three days. We have requested the centre to send more vaccine. This in the state with the highest number of cases every day. In Mumbai also stocks only remain for three days,” Mr Tope had told NDTV earlier today.
He said he had informed Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan about the dire situation.
“Today 14 lakh doses are available, which means there is only three days’ stock. So every week we need 40 lakh doses that is if we vaccinate 5 lakh everyday,” he said.
The minister said he had told Dr Vardhan: “We don’t have doses in most of our vaccination centres… sending people back… I have been asking you to supply vaccine to us.”
In a separate letter, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi told Dr Vardhan Maharashtra has only 48 hours of supply left. “The speed of vaccination and the volume also means that many districts have run out of vaccines and other districts have stocks that would last only 48 hours,” she wrote.
Faced with calls for help Dr Vardhan hit back at “deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”. The “lackadaisical attitude” of the state had bogged down the entire country’s efforts to fight the virus, he added
The centre had “no option” but prioritise “so long as supply of vaccines remains limited”, he said.
Maharashtra is the worst-affected state, and is being pummeled by a second wave of infections that has seen the country record nearly three lakh new cases in the past 72 hours.
Earlier tonight it reported nearly 60,000 new cases in 24 hours – its biggest ever single-day spike.
Mumbai civic body BMC – which reported over 10,000 new case today – has also admitted to a shortage in vaccine stocks. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said: “We only have one lakh plus Covishield doses left. There is a bit of a shortage. Rajesh Tope has spoken to the Center on this.”
“The centre needs to give us more stocks as soon as possible or it will be difficult to administer second doses,” she said, urging citizens to follow all precautions.
According to a top Maharashtra health official, the state had around 14 lakh vaccine doses as of Wednesday morning.
“Many districts will run out of the stock today or tomorrow. The centre is aware of the situation and (we) have also communicated in writing,” Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas told news agency PTI, adding that the state could administer five lakh shots in a day if there was clarity on schedule and availability.
Sources in the centre said around 1.06 crore doses have been sent to Maharashtra and, so far, around 90 lakh have been administered.
“Maharashtra has around 16 lakh doses as of today. Centre is sending an additional 7 lakh today, the usual supply. We expect Maharashtra will have around 23 lakh by today,” the sources said.
Even as the state fears vaccine shortage, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen the vaccination drive to all above 25 years, citing the need to protect young people stepping out of their homes to earn a living.
In a letter to PM Modi, Mr Thackeray also demanded 1.5 crore more doses of vaccines to help Maharashtra vaccinate within three weeks all above 45 in six districts including Mumbai.