To allow more vaccines to be available amid its dire shortage, Delhi Chief Minister urged the central government on Tuesday to share the formula of the covid-19 vaccine that is being used by the two drugmakers to produce it. It can then be given to other companies to manufacture more doses and help in the demand chain.
The request comes amid a heavy shortage of the vaccine required urgently to safeguard citizens of India against the deadly virus that has taken thousands of lives till now. Currently, two brands of covid vaccine are available in India- Covisheild and Covaxin. These are being produced by 2 companies only- Serum Insitute of India and Bharat Biotech, leading to longer waiting durations to avail and administer the vaccine to the public.
The immense pressure on these pharmaceutical companies and the scarcity of vaccines can be solved by giving the vaccine formula to other companies to manufacture them at the earliest.
Though Russia’s Sputnik V has received emergency use permission, becoming the third vaccine to be approved in India, it isn’t available in the country right now for mass inoculation. However, this vaccine will be produced by 5 companies.
“Only two companies are producing vaccines. They produce only six to seven crore a month. This way, it will take over two years to vaccinate everyone… many waves will have come by then. It is important to increase vaccine production and frame a national plan,” Mr Kejriwal said.
“… several companies should be deployed to produce vaccines. Centre should collect the formula from these two and give it to the others so they can produce vaccines safely,” he added.
Speaking about the tense situation in the country and the need to scale up vaccine production, the CM also wrote to PM Modi. In the letter, he stressed, “The centre has the power to do this in these difficult times,” while adding that “every Indian should be vaccinated in the next few months and we are ready to play every role”.
We’re administering 1.25 lakh doses every day. We’ll begin vaccinating over three lakh every day. We aim to vaccinate all residents within three months but we’re facing a shortage,” Mr Kejriwal said.
The CM also applauded the lockdown and its effects as the number of new covid cases in Delhi has reduced. It was earlier recording close to 28,000 cases every day in April. He added that the lockdown was also utilized to improve the infrastructure of the city.
“With your cooperation, the lockdown was successful. We’ve increased the number of oxygen beds in the past few days. Yesterday, we set up 500 new ICU beds near GTB Hospital. Now there is no shortage of ICU and oxygen beds in Delhi,” he said.
As per the announcement, Delhi is under lockdown till 5 am on May 17th.
A day prior to the appeal, Health Minister Satyendar Jain disclosed that Delhi only has stocks of Covaxin enough for only 1 day and Covishield for 4 days, highlighting the need for vaccines to reach the city for inoculating people.
Though vaccine availability was always an issue, it gained momentum after the Centre announced slots opening for people aged 18 and above from May 1st. Vaccine prices too are taking the limelight and slowing down its distribution as states buy them for at least double the price which Centre pays to procure the vaccine.
The Centre slammed Delhi on Monday night and accused it of buying only 5.5 lakh doses and hitting the government instead. AAP, Delhi’s ruling party, was quick to respond and said that the Centre was intentional, “cutting short vaccine supplies to states and selling that to foreign countries”, while showing what it said was evidence of the same.
Delhi’s positivity rate is below 20 per cent- the first time since April began. It reported 12,600 new infections today taking the total active toll to over 85,000.
India registered more than 3.29 lakh cases within the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.