New Delhi: When the third phase of India’s vaccination drive against COVID-19 started on May 1, most Indian states reported that they did not have stock of vaccines. Only six states started the vaccination drive in the given age group, that too, a ‘token’ one. However, it has come to light that Gujarat vaccinated 60% of the 86,023 people in the age group on May 1, while a majority of the states had declared shortage and/or lack of stocks for vaccines for those under 44 years.
The Union Health Ministry, on May 2, said, “86,023 beneficiaries in the age group of 18-44 years received their first dose of COVID vaccine across 11 states.” These states are Chhattisgarh (987), Delhi (1,472), Gujarat (51,622), Jammu and Kashmir (201), Karnataka (649), Maharashtra (12,525), Odisha (97), Punjab (298), Rajasthan (1853), Tamil Nadu (527) and UP (15,792).
Former Union Minister and Member of Parliament for Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, Jairam Ramesh, also raised questions regarding this data, asking why only 11 states were able to vaccinate people in the 18-44 group on that day. He also questioned why Gujarat accounted for 60% of those vaccinations.
It is clear from the above that Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are far second and third highest in vaccination numbers for May 1, while the other eight states are further behind, some only having been able to inoculate a few hundred in the 18-44 age group. It should be noted that the BJP-led Gujarat government recently secured 1.5 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the 18+ age group to be inoculated in the third phase.
It is also noted that according to the Indian government’s recent directive, the burden for vaccinating the 18-44 age group falls entirely on state governments. While vaccine manufacturers are mandated to sell 50% of their produce to the Union government, states can procure the vaccines directly from manufacturers from the remaining 50%. However, the state governments have to compete with the private sector from that same 50% too. The Union government meanwhile will allocate to states from what it procures from vaccine manufacturers only for the 45+ age group and healthcare and frontline workers. This allotment will also be based on states’ ability to vaccinate more people as well as lower rates of vaccine wastage.
The Union government revealed further that the cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 15.68 crore as part of Phase 3 of the nationwide vaccination drive. Cumulatively, 15,68,16,031 vaccine doses have been administered through 22,93,911 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am, the ministry said. These include 94,28,490 healthcare workers (HCWs) who have taken the first dose and 62,65,397 HCWs who have taken the second dose, 1,27,57,529 frontline workers (FLWs) who received the first dose and 69,22,093 FLWs who took the second dose. Besides, 5,26,18,135 and 1,14,49,310 beneficiaries above 60 years old have been administered the first and second dose respectively, while 5,32,80,976 and 40,08,078 beneficiaries aged 45 to 60 have taken the first and second dose.
Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh account for 67% of the cumulative doses given as of May 2 in the country. As on day-106 of the vaccination drive (May 1), 18,26,219 vaccine doses were given. Across 15,968 sessions, 11,14,214 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 7,12,005 beneficiaries received their second dose of vaccine.