Maharashtra facing COVID-19 vaccine shortage, has enough for 3 days: Health Minister

“I'm not saying that the Union government is not giving us vaccines, the speed of delivery of vaccines is slow,” Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.
A file image of Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope sitting on a leather chair wearing a grey shirt and looking into camera
A file image of Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope sitting on a leather chair wearing a grey shirt and looking into camera
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Maharashtra is running out of vaccines amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the state’s Health Minister, Rajesh Tope, told the media on Wednesday. He said that Maharashtra currently has 14 lakh vaccine doses, which are enough for the next three days. Tope added that the state has asked for 40 lakh more vaccines per week. Currently, many vaccination centres are running out of vaccine supplies, and are being forced to send people back. 

"I'm not saying that the Centre is not giving us vaccines but the speed of delivery of vaccines is slow,” Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, addressing the media on Wednesday. “We do not have enough vaccine doses at various vaccination centres, and people have to be sent back due to a shortage of doses. We have asked the Union government that people of age group 20-40 years must be vaccinated on priority,” Rajesh Tope added.

The Health Minister also said that currently, 12 metric tonnes of oxygen is being produced and over seven tonnes of oxygen is being consumed daily in the state. “We've demanded that we should be supplied medical oxygen from nearby states. If needed, we'll close down industries that use oxygen but won't let supply of medical oxygen be affected,” Tope said. 

A state official had earlier told PTI that several districts in Maharashtra will run out of the COVID-19 vaccine stock in a day or two and the Centre has been informed about it. As on Wednesday morning, the state has around 14 lakh vaccine doses, principal secretary (health) Pradeep Vyas told PTI.

Nearly 82 lakh people have been vaccinated so far in Maharashtra since the roll-out of the inoculation drive. An official statement on Tuesday said Maharashtra had received 1.06 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, out of which 88 lakh doses have been used while the wastage stood at three per cent. It said the state government will vigorously pursue its demand for more stock of vaccine doses, considering the rapid rise in the COVID-19 cases and expansion of the vaccination drive.

Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 55,469 fresh coronavirus positive cases, the second highest spike in the last two days, taking the tally of infections to 31,13,354while 297 deaths pushed the toll to 56,330, the state health department said. Maharashtra is now left with 4,72,283 active cases. Mumbai recorded 10,040 new cases and 32 deaths.

Maharashtra had on Sunday announced a weekend lockdown and night curfew during the weekdays from April 5 to April 30, in addition to a slew of other restrictions like closure of private offices, theatres and salons to curb the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases. The weekend lockdown will start from 8 pm on Fridays and last till 7 am on Mondays. Besides, prohibitory orders will be in force during daytime on weekdays. Except the essential services shops, medical shops and grocery shops, all other shops, markets and shopping malls will be closed till April 30.

The opposition in the state has questioned the stringent curbs, but the state’s health minister has asked the parties not to indulge in politics over the pandemic.

“Nobody should do politics in a pandemic situation. The Chief Minister has appealed for this and Devendra Fadnavis (former Chief Minister and now Leader of the Opposition) has supported it. The Opposition should not provoke people for protests against restrictions. If there is some need of relaxations, the government will consider it in due course,” Maharashtra Health Minister Tope said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray two days ago had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow people above 25 years to receive COVID-19 shots, which he said will protect the young people from the rapid spread of the viral infection at a time when they are stepping outside their homes to earn a livelihood. In a letter to the PM, Thackeray also demanded that Maharashtra be provided 1.5 crore additional doses of vaccines, which will enable the state government to complete within three weeks the vaccination of beneficiaries above 45 years of age in six districts, including Mumbai.

With PTI inputs

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