Just three months after it rolled out its first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, India hit another grim milestone on 7 April as it registered over 1.15 lakh fresh cases of COVID-19. However, several states are reportedly staring at another point of concern – a COVID vaccine shortage.
At least six states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha, Telangana, and Maharashtra have reported shortages of the Covishield vaccine, which is one of two COVID vaccines approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The hardest-hit state Maharashtra has vaccine stocks only for three days according to state Health Minister Rajesh Tope. The reported shortage of vaccines has also resulted in COVID hotspots, such as Pune to shut over 100 vaccination centres. Tope further stated that he has requested the Centre for additional vaccines.
However, the Centre has hit back on Maharashtra’s SOS on vaccines. In an interview with NDTV on 7 April, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan slammed what he called "deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people.” He said there are no vaccine shortages in India.
Now, these are obviously contradictory statements. So, to get a sense of what the ground reality is in the states reporting vaccine shortages, especially in hotspots like Pune, I spoke with Dr Varsha Dange, who is the Medical Officer for the Pimpri Chinchwad District of Maharashtra. According to her, the district today officially ran out of Covishield vaccines.
You will also be hearing from Dr Subhash Salunkhe, who is the COVID-19 technical advisor to the Maharashtra government, on where we are heading in this second wave of the virus.
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