Home >News >India >Tussle between Centre, states over jab shortage intensifies

A political fight between the Union government and some states over an alleged shortage of vaccines is threatening to cast a shadow over India’s battle against covid-19.

This comes at a time when a resurgence of the pandemic has led average daily cases to breach the 100,000 mark, pushing several states to impose lockdowns to keep the disease under control.

Chief ministers and health ministers of several states, including those hard hit by the pandemic, complained to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan about the vaccine shortage hampering their inoculation drive.

Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said the state will exhaust its covid-19 vaccine stocks in two days. “Vaccination has stopped in districts such as Satara, Sangli, and Panvel. We have two more days of stock," he said.

India reported more than 126,789 fresh cases in the last 24 hours with 10 states, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala, and Punjab accounting for 84.21% of the total.

Tope accused the Centre of supplying fewer vaccines to Maharashtra despite it having the highest number of covid-19 cases in India. BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana have been given more vaccines in comparison with the population and covid-19 cases, while the state “has been given 7.5 lakh vaccine dosages only", in the latest allotment, he said.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Thursday increased the vaccine limit for Maharashtra to 1.7 million, but Tope said, “Even this is less because we need 40 lakh vaccine doses a week and 17 lakh doses are not enough. We want 1.6 crore vaccine dosages per month and 40 lakh every week because we are vaccinating 6 lakh people every day."

Many vaccination centres in Maharashtra are being closed temporarily because of the shortage of vaccines. On Wednesday, Maharashtra reported 59,907 new infections, its highest single-day spike, and 322 fatalities, taking its total tally to 3,173,261 and toll to 56,652. The number of active cases also crossed the 500,000-mark with 501,559 active infections.

Over 91 million vaccines have been utilized so far while 24 million vaccine doses are in stock and 19 million are in the pipeline, according to the Union health ministry.

Health minister Vardhan attacked the Maharashtra government on its claim of covid-19 vaccine shortage. “Hue & cry by certain States about partisanship by the Union Govt is just a farce, an attempt to hide their own incompetence. Maharashtra and Rajasthan are 2 of the top 3 States based on allocation of #COVID19Vaccine doses. Both are non-BJP governed States," Vardhan said in his tweet. “Let’s put an end to fear mongering now! #COVID19Vaccine doses: Total administered: 9 cr+ In stock/nearing delivery to states: 4.3 cr+ Where does question of shortages arise? We’re continuously monitoring & enhancing supply," he said.

In, Odisha health minister Naba Kishore Das said the state may have to stop the vaccination drive if it does not get replenishments in two days. “About 700 of our vaccination centres, out of the 1,400, have already closed. Right now, we have 5.34 lakh doses. We administer 2.5 lakh vaccines daily. So, our stock will last for 2 more days. We have written to Centre to send us a minimum of 25 lakh vaccines for 10 days so that we can vaccinate properly," said Das.

Kalpana Pathak from Mumbai and Utpal Bhaskar from New Delhi contributed to this story

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