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Vaccination drive for all above 18 years may get delayed as states yet to get a clarity on delivery

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Registration for vaccinations for all above the age of 18 may have started on Wednesday but there seems to be a slip between the cup and the lip. State governments are yet to get a clarity from vaccine manufacturers regarding the vaccine delivery timelines. As a result, most states are unable to start vaccinations from May 1.

Maharashtra said it can start the vaccination for all only by May-end as they do not have vaccines. The state would set up dedicated vaccine centres for those between 18 and 44 years. The government has placed the order for Russian vaccine Sputnik which is expected by August.

Uttar Pradesh, which was one of the first states to place an initial order for 1 crore doses of vaccine, is unlikely to start vaccination of the 18 years and above category from May 1 due to delay in vaccine delivery. It may not be able to meet its target of vaccinating 6.5 lakh people every day.

“We will declare a launch date based on the supply chain. We have placed an order for 1 crore vials from the Indian manufacturers but yet to get their delivery schedule. We have taken a decision on Wednesday to call for global tender for 4 crore vials, with a clause to increase quantities,” Sidharth Nath Singh, the state MSME minister told ET.

“We have placed orders with SII for 30 lakh doses which would be delivered only after May 15,” Balbir Sidhu, Punjab health minister told ET. “We have the infrastructure to administer 3 lakh doses per day, but we always have a crisis.”

Both the Punjab and Rajasthan governments are yet to decide the date from which they will start vaccination for people above 18 years. Rajasthan government officials told ET that SII has not responded on the delivery of 3.75 crore doses ordered by the state government. The vaccination for those above 18 years may get delayed.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has written a letter to PM Modi highlighting the delay in delivery of vaccines by the manufacturers. The state has placed an order of 25 lakh doses of vaccine with each of the two manufacturers. While Bharat Biotech said they will not be able to deliver the order before July, SII is yet to give a timeline. Baghel demanded that the Centre distribute vaccines depending on the positivity ratio of cases in the states. He requested that other companies be allowed to manufacture the vaccine.

The MP government has ordered 45 lakh doses from SII but the company is yet to fix a timeline. Accordingly, the state would make a vaccination strategy. Chief minister Shivraj Chouhan appealed to the Centre that states be allowed to vaccinate people below 45 years from the central quota of vaccines.

Bihar has prepared its infrastructure to start vaccination for all from May 1. The state has prepared 2,175 sites for vaccination, 52 of which are private centres. State government officials told ET that vaccination for people above 45 years will continue simultaneously.

The third phase of vaccination in Assam, slated to start from May 1, targets 1.08 crore people in the 18-44 age group. However, there is uncertainty over vaccine availability. The state was the first to place an order of one crore doses with Bharat Biotech and is planning to order another one crore doses from SII. Assam’s vaccine stock is at 6.57 lakh which is expected to last over a week.

A target of 40 lakh doses for the initial phase has been set by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, but the programme would also depend on vaccine delivery.

The Telangana government plans to begin vaccination for people above 18 years in May first week or so and meet the target before July-end. Chief secretary Somesh Kumar held talks with top executives of Bharat Biotech on Tuesday to procure the required vaccines from the Hyderabad-headquartered vaccine-maker, a government statement read.

The Tamil Nadu government continues to remain tight-lipped about the third phase of the vaccination rollout starting May 1. Officials from the public health department said things would be decided once election results are announced on May 2.

Kerala has decided to give free vaccination to those in the 18-45 age group. The government will buy one crore vaccines for May to July –– 70 lakh doses of Covishield for Rs 294 crore and 30 lakh doses of Covaxin for Rs 189 crore.

The Gujarat government is ready to start vaccination for all from May 1. It has placed order for 1 crore doses of Covishield from SII and an additional 50 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech.

“We can vaccinate even up to five lakh people a day, but it depends on the availability of vaccine,” an official from the Karnataka said.

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