Karnataka HC says vaccine shortage ‘disturbing’, govt floats global tender

This tender will help meet the increased demand of vaccines and facilitate vaccination for the 18-44 years age group.
Vaccine vial opened at a vaccination site in India
Vaccine vial opened at a vaccination site in India

The Karnataka government will procure two crore COVID-19 vaccine doses through a global tender in the wake of a shortage. On May 11, the Karnataka High Court observed that “the situation regarding availability of vaccines in the state of Karnataka is very disturbing.” This tender will meet the increased demand of vaccines and facilitate vaccination of the age group of 18-44 years, Deputy Chief Minister and state COVID task force head Dr CN Ashwath Narayan said.

In addition to this, an order has already been placed for three crore vaccine doses — one crore Covaxin and two crore Covishield, he said. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting he chaired, his office said in a statement.

"Till now, we had depended only on vaccines supplied by the Union government and it was not procured from the open market by floating tenders. Now, it has been instructed to float the tender and to complete the process within seven days," the Deputy CM said.

Meanwhile, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana are also at various stages of calling for global tenders to meet the growing demand for a vaccine in their states.

HC takes serious note of vaccine shortage

The court order mentioned that 65,83,687 (66 lakh approx) beneficiaries needed the second dose, while what was available during a hearing on May 5 was a total quantity of 7,76,675 (8 lakh approx) doses. Under these circumstances, the HC directed the state government to write to the Union government for fresh stocks and urged the latter to take note of the state’s critical situation.

“It is necessary for the Union government to take up the issue with the manufacturer of the vaccine so that the state government can immediately procure the quota of vaccines for the age group of 18-44 years,” a part of the order said.

The HC further asked the state to prioritise those waiting for the second dose over those waiting for their first jab.

Other procurement ordered by the Task Force

Authorities have also been instructed to procure one lakh pulse oximeters and these will be distributed to all the districts and taluks. It will be the responsibility of District Health Officers and Taluk Health Officers to collect the pulse oximeters back after the infected user gets cured. Later, they will be used for creating a pulse oximeter bank, the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Narayan also said that 10 lakh Ivermectin tablets, which is required as part of COVID-19 treatment, has been procured and its supply will begin on May 14. It has been further decided to procure 25 lakh tablets and make them available in all hospitals across the state.

Thirty-five lakh zinc tablets and one crore calcigen tablets will be procured and made available in all district hospitals, taluk hospitals, PHCs, and community health centres, Narayan said.

Currently, 10.5 lakh RAT (Rapid Antigen Tests) kits are in stock and this will be enough for seven days. A total of 50,000 RAT kits are being supplied every day. In addition to this, it has been decided to procure 37 lakh RT-PCR kits.

The minister said triaging would be made mandatory to avoid unnecessary occupancy of beds and requested urban residents not to go to villages to get vaccinated.

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