This vaccination centre at Pandara Park has been shut down for now
NEW DELHI: The vaccination drive for the young (18-44 age-group) has been put on hold in Delhi due to a severe vaccine crunch, and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday asked the Centre to supply more vaccines to the capital so that it can re-start the drive. Delhi needs 80 lakh doses of vaccines each month but for May it received only 16 lakh. And there won’t be much relief next month either. Delhi has been promised only 8 lakh doses in June. Kejriwal said at this pace, it will take 30 months to vaccinate all in the capital.
The chief minister has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, drawing his attention to the situation. He has urged the Centre to provide the required vaccines as soon as possible so that the centres that have been closed down can be reopened. He has also pleaded with the Centre to increase Delhi’s vaccination quota. “”This Covid wave (fourth wave) has killed mostly the youth and the vaccines meant for inoculating the youth in Delhi are as of now over,” said the CM at a digital address to the media.
He gave four suggestions to the Centre for increasing the supply of vaccines: Ask vaccine manufacturing companies in the country to manufacture the vaccine using the formula Bharat Biotech has agreed to share (Covaxin); allow all foreign vaccines to be used in the country, and the Centre, rather than the states, should buy them; the foreign Covid vaccine manufacturing companies should be allowed to manufacture the vaccines in India; and India should reach out to countries that are storing vaccines beyond their requirement and appeal to them to share the excess stocks with India.
At her daily briefing on the vaccine situation in the city, AAP MLA Atishi said that 50,20,214 people have been vaccinated so far in Delhi because of Delhi’s high-speed vaccination programme despite constraints due to the vaccine crunch.
Vaccinating the maximum number of people in minimum time is the only way to protect the country from a third wave, said Kejriwal. He said the Delhi government was already arranging for beds, ICUs, oxygen and medicines but people were concerned about the vaccine shortage. “I received a call from an old woman who told me that she and her son want to get vaccinated. She is 65-year-old and her son is 35. I said we have run out of vaccines for the youth but I could get her vaccinated. She thought for a bit and asked me if it was okay if her son was vaccinated instead of her. She said she was old, but her son has to manage a family and must stay protected. I was very disturbed after listening to this,” said the CM.
He said the city was facing a severe vaccine crunch. “Delhi needs 80 lakh vaccines every month. We, however, received 16 lakh in the month of May, and the central government has reduced the quota for Delhi for the month of June by half. A letter we have received from the Centre says that we will be given only 8 lakh vaccines in June. Till now, we have administered a total of 50 lakh vaccine doses in Delhi and we need 2.5 crore more to vaccinate all the adults. At this pace, if only 8 lakh vaccines are provided every month, it will take 30 months to vaccinate all adults in Delhi. And till then, no one knows how many waves and deaths due to the coronavirus will be witnessed,” said Kejriwal.
“Bharat Biotech, which manufactures Covaxin, is ready to give its formula to other companies. There are several vaccine-making companies in the country. The central government should immediately invite all of them and order them – not request – to start rapidly making the vaccine. This should happen in the next 24 hours,” he said, adding that every day is precious.
Kejriwal also suggested that all foreign vaccines should be given permission within 24 hours to be used in India. “The Centre should communicate with all the manufacturers. Currently, the Centre has left the job to the states,” he said, suggesting that the Centre can buy crores of vaccines and distribute them among the states.