Telangana extends lockdown until May 30, faces acute vaccine shortage

Published : May 19, 2021 21:23 IST

Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on a visit to the Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad, on May 19. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A day after Telangana announced the extension of the ongoing lockdown until May 30, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the Gandhi Hospital, the State’s premier government hospital, to gauge for himself the standard of treatment being provided to COVID-19 patients. The lockdown was imposed on May 12.

Telangana is facing an acute shortage of vaccine. Over the past four days the State administered the vaccine to a little over 5,000 people. The shortage has resulted in the health authorities suspending the administering of vaccines across the State. Talking to Frontline, Health Department officials said that around 3,50,000 people were waiting to be administered the second dose of Covaxin, but the State had hardly 50,000 doses left. With the next batch of vaccines expected to arrive only after a fortnight, officials said they had no choice but to suspend the vaccination campaign.

The Centre’s rather sudden announcement increasing the time interval between the first and second shots of the Covishield vaccine to 12 to 16 weeks, has meant that there is currently no one in the state that is due for the second dose of Covishield.

Said Dr G. Srinivasa Rao, Director of Public Health and Family Welfare: “Till date from commencement of vaccination drive across the country from January 16, Telangana had received nearly 57,30,220 doses of vaccine from the Government of India, including both Covaxin and Covishield. Today, we are left with 1,86,780 doses. While 50,000 doses are of Covaxin, the rest are for Covishield.”

Officials disclosed that Telangana’s target population in the 18 to 44 age group was 19 million. Against this, the Centre has allocated just 490,000 doses of vaccine to the State for this age category,. Said Srinivasa Rao: “With these few vaccines, the State cannot go ahead and start vaccinating the 18 to 44 age group. The available stock can run out in a few days and then we have to wait for weeks or even months to make the next procurement, which is not ideal. The Chief Minister will make a decision who in this age group should be given priority for vaccinations.”

On May 19 Telangana put out a global tender for the procurement of 10 million doses of vaccines from overseas manufacturers or their agents. The Telangana State Medical Services and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TSMSIDC), which is the central procuring agency for all essential and specialised drugs and medical devices, has specified in the tender document that the vaccines must be as per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Noted the document: “TSMSIDC requires at least 15 lakh (1.5 million) to 20 Lakh (2 million) doses of the vaccine to be supplied every month. The supplies have to be initiated within 7 days of release of purchase order and completed within 30 days.” The last date to submit quotations is June 4.