New Delhi: The Delhi government Tuesday said it will have to shut a large number of Covid-19 jab centres due to a shortage of shots and urged the Centre to use its special power to allow more firms to manufacture vaccines, while also announced the AAP dispensation will float a global tender to procure additional doses.
As many as 125 centres administering Covaxin to 18-44 age group are likely to be closed down by Wednesday as the Delhi government did not receive new stock of the vaccine till Tuesday evening.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the Centre should share the vaccine formula of the two manufacturers with other capable pharmaceutical companies to scale up production in the country.
In his letter to Modi, Kejriwal said the entire country can be provided a “safety cover” by allowing more companies to manufacture the vaccines on a war footing in preparation for an anticipated third wave of the pandemic. He said the Centre can also terminate the monopoly on vaccine production through the patent law.
There are two vaccine makers in the country currently — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — which are manufacturing Covaxin and Covishield, respectively.
These two firms can be given royalty from the profit of other companies for the use of their original formulas, Kejriwal said.
“Presently, only two companies are manufacturing vaccines in India. Providing vaccines to the whole country through two companies only is not possible. It requires ramping up vaccine manufacturing at war footing. I request you to grant permission for mass production of the vaccines,” he wrote in his letter to Modi.
Faced with the acute shortage of vaccines, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Delhi government will float a global tender for procuring COVID-19 vaccines.
Only three vaccines have so far been approved to be sold in India — Covaxin, Coveshield and Sputnik V. Sputnik V has been approved to be imported from Russia by Dr Reddy’s, but is yet to be widely available in the country.
Addressing a press conference here, Sisodia alleged that the BJP-ruled Centre was “forcing” state governments to invite global tenders for vaccine procurement.
The Central government wants the states to compete and fight with each other in the international market for vaccines, Sisodai alleged.
“It is the role and responsibility of the Central government to integrate the needs of all States and procure vaccines through a global tender for India instead of leaving states to fight in an international marketplace for vaccines,” Sisodia said.
Sisodia appealed to the Centre to take cognisance of the crisis and immediately begin a vaccine programme along the lines of the Pulse Polio Programme.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, Kejriwal said the Centre has the power to share COVID-19 formula with other companies to scale up vaccine production in the country.
There is an urgent need to ramp up the manufacturing of vaccines on a war footing while developing a national policy to inoculate everyone in the next few months, he said.
“Delhi is facing a shortage of vaccines. Some states have not even started inoculation because they do not have the required number of doses. The vaccine shortage has become a big challenge for the country,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo said.
He said the Centre should ensure that all the vaccine manufacturing plants in the country start producing COVID-19 vaccines.
“The two vaccine companies in the country are currently producing around six-seven crore doses per month. At this rate, it will take two years to vaccinate everyone. Who knows how many waves of COVID will pass us by then and what will be extent of the destruction.
“The Centre should take the vaccine formula from these two companies and provide it to all those companies that can safely manufacture the vaccines,” Kejriwal said.
“We have excellent industrialists, pharmaceutical companies that are the largest in the world and the best scientists. I believe that if given a chance, they will extend their full cooperation,” he added.
Meanwhile, AAP MLA Atishi said 125 centres administering Covaxin for the 18-44 age group are likely to be shut from Wednesday since the national capital has run out of Covaxin stock for them.
The national capital on Tuesday reported 12,481 new cases, 347 more fatalities with a positivity rate of 17.76%, the Health Department said. The number of new cases reported on a single day is the lowest since April 12 while the positivity rate is the lowest since April 14, when it stood at 15.9%. The positivity rate has remained above the 20% mark since April 17.
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