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Supply uncertain, multiple states set to delay vaccination

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Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an expansion of the country’s vaccination drive, opening up inoculation for everyone above the age of 18.

The drive has since been beset by multiple hurdles. The latest is supply shortages, with states having to procure vaccines on their own. Several state governments have announced that they are unlikely to be able to start by May 1.

Maharashtra’s Phase 3 might start only at the end of May, with the state’s Health Minister saying they would need at least five days of supplies to start inoculation.

“Unless Maharashtra gets vials between 25 lakh and 30 lakh, we will not commence vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group,” Health Minister Rajesh Tope told reporters on April 29.

Mumbai has announced that inoculation centres in the city will be shut for three days starting April 30 due to vaccine shortage.

Some states are set to see even longer delays. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy said the state might start the next phase of vaccination only in September.

“From September it will take at least four months to vaccinate everyone, meaning vaccinations will go on till January 2022,” Reddy said in a COVID-19 review meeting.

Jammu and Kashmir – which has placed an order for 1.24 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – is set to receive its shipment on May 20, barring unforeseen delays.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has appealed to citizens to avoid thronging vaccine centres on May 1 as the city does not have sufficient supplies.

“We have not yet received the vaccines. We are hopeful that vaccines will reach by tomorrow or the day after. They have assured us three lakh doses of Covishield are coming to us first, tomorrow or the day after,” said Kejriwal.

The list of states delaying the third phase is increasing. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Bihar, Jharkhand and Goa have all asked people to wait for their shot.

“We have placed orders for one crore doses of vaccine and the manufacturers are yet to officially give us confirmation as to when they will be able to deliver. Till we intimate you, please do not visit hospitals even if you’ve registered,” said Karnataka’s Health Minister K Sudhakar.

The country has so far administered over 15 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the drive began in January, with a large chunk of those doses going to front line workers and most-at-risk senior population.

India saw 3,86,452 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with almost 3,500 people succumbing to the disease. Total cases in the country now stand at 1,87,62,976, with 2,08,330 dead, data released on Friday showed.

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