COVID-19 vaccines: South Indian states run short of Covishield amid surge in cases

Telangana has administered over six lakh vaccines in 10 days, depleting the number of available vaccines in the state by almost 60%, while Karnataka has between 8,000 - 14,000 takers for vaccines.
Covid19 Vaccines shortage
Covid19 Vaccines shortage
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As several countries witness a surge in COVID-19 cases,  south Indian states such as Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh are seeing a persistent increase in the number of takers for vaccines and booster doses. In the last 10 days, Telangana has administered over six lakh vaccines, depleting the number of available vaccines in the state by almost 60%. However, this influx is reported three months after the union government stopped the production and distribution of the Covishield vaccine. Additionally, there are fewer to no doses of Covishield available in the south Indian states.

Telangana’s vaccination stock as on December 27, 2022, was over nine lakhs. As of Thursday, January 5, 2023, the state reportedly has 3,46,910 vaccines in stock. Among them, there are no Covishield doses available to distribute to the districts. The districts are currently left with the last fifty thousand doses. However, Covaxin is available at both the district and state stores, and the available stock amounts to 2, 93,960.

Meanwhile, an official from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Andhra Pradesh, told TNM that the state is currently facing a shortage of Covishield. The official believes that the number of Covaxin dosages in stock will soon be replenished as the government of India is expected to deliver stocks by January 7, 2023.

As of January 3, 2023, the Karnataka state had 230 doses of Covishield while the districts had 310 at their disposal. Over six lakh Covaxin doses, on the other hand, are available across districts. Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar told TNM, “We currently have a stockpile of 6,87,270 doses. Out of these, we have a total of 6,86,730 Covaxin doses and 540 Covishield doses. Since COVID-19 spikes driven by the new BF.7 subvariant of Omicron have occurred in many countries across the world, there has been a slight increase in the number of people taking booster shots.” According to the Health Minister, about 8,000 to 14,000 people are being administered precautionary doses every day in Karnataka. To cater to the increasing number of vaccination takers in the state, those who have been administered two doses of either Covaxin or Covishield are being offered the choice of receiving Corbevax as a precautionary dose. However, the state and districts had no Corbevax available in stock or in transit as on January 3.

“All the vaccines currently in use are produced by various private manufacturers like Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. As the demand increases, the union government has assured that adequate doses will be procured and supplied,” Dr K Sudhakar added.

An official from the Directorate of Health Services, Kerala,  informed TNM that there are no doses of Covishield available with the state at the moment. Meanwhile, around 13 thousand Covaxin doses are available. “Although India is bracing for any potential increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the Directorate of Health Services is undertaking measures to administer vaccine doses and precautionary doses, we have not seen any substantial increase in the number of takers since December,” the official said.

Similarly, the number of recipients of vaccination against COVID-19 has not surged in Tamil Nadu. Dr TS Selva Vinayagam, Director of Public Health, Tamil Nadu, told TNM, “There are three lakh doses available in Tamil Nadu, but they are underutilised at the time. If this trend continues, the currently available stock can last for more than a month.”

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