Andhra Pradesh and Telangana complain of shortage of COVID-19 vaccines; promised consignment yet to arrive in Andhra Pradesh

Published : April 08, 2021 12:56 IST

At a vaccination centre in Hyderabad, on April 5. Photo: NOAH SEELAM/AFP

Two districts of Andhra Pradesh, Nellore and West Godavari, ran out of COVID-19 vaccines on April 7, according to the Andhra Pradesh Health, Medical & Family Welfare Department. Officials told Frontline that the State would run out of its stock of vaccines, both Covishield and Covaxin, by April 8 or 9 if it did not receive the next consignment from the Centre. This situation has come about when cases are on the rise in the State and the rest of the country.

An official of the HMFW department said on April 7: “The Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, had written to the Union government on March 26 requesting 1 crore doses of vaccine. The Union Ministry of Health replied on March 27 stating that 1,57,210 doses of the vaccine would reach the State by April 2. That consignment is still to arrive. The State now has 3.7 lakh doses [80 per cent of which is Covishield]. On an average we are vaccinating around 1.3 lakh people per day. Our stocks will run out in two days.”

While the State administered 1,36,617 COVID-19 doses on April 5, only 73,916 doses were administered on April 6. With Nellore district running out of vaccines only around 400 doses of vaccines could be administered as the first dose, while zero doses of the second dose were administered. Even these vaccine doses had been sourced from other districts.

Confirming that the State had written to the Union Health Secretary, asking for an increased quantity of vaccine doses to be supplied to the State, Bhaskar Katamneni, Commissioner Health and Managing Director National Health Mission, told Frontline that with municipal and rural elections done, Andhra Pradesh was poised to make a massive push in its drive to vaccinate the designated population.

As of April 7, Andhra Pradesh had administered the vaccine to 33,22,103 persons, 28,63,598 having taken the first dose and 4,58,505 both doses.

Covaxin shortage

Neighbouring Telangana faced a shortage of Covaxin, which, incidentally, is manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s facility in Telangana’s Genome Valley in Hyderabad. The private health care sector has led the way in the vaccination drive in the State, and according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s data, 48.39 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccine doses in Telangana have being administered at private health care facilities.

A senior executive of a leading corporate hospital told Frontline that in the initial phases of the vaccination drive, 40 per cent of the vaccines that were received from the Government of India were Covaxin. However, over the last few days, the share of Covaxin had trickled down to just 10 to 20 per cent of the total number of doses. Confirming the shortage in supplies, officials from the Telangana Health, Medical & Family Welfare Department said there was the possibility of no fresh doses of the vaccine being supplied over the next few weeks. They attributed this shortage to the lack of deliveries of Covaxin doses from the Centre for quite a while now. And there is no confirmation from the Centre as to when fresh stocks are likely to arrive.

According to P. Hari Krishna, executive director of the Medicover Hospitals group, there had been “insufficient quantities of Covaxin supplied over the past few days, but the position was slowly improving”. He attributed the shortage to the highly regulated supply of the vaccine by the Government of India. Said Hari Krishna: “It is time for the government to open up and allow the pharmaceutical companies to revert to their usual supply chains mechanisms to distribute the vaccines.”

Officials disclosed on April 7 that Telangana had around 10 lakh doses of Covishield. This has caused consternation among health professionals, both private and government, because footfalls for vaccination have increased from April 1, with anyone over the age of 45 being eligible to receive the vaccination.

The number of vaccinations administered in Telangana as of April 7, stood at 16,60,050. While 13,91,599 have been administered the first dose, 2,68,451 people have received both doses. The number of actives cases in the State as on April 7 crossed the 12,000 mark, shooting up by almost 2,000 cases over the previous day.

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