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The West Bengal health department has decided to use 50% of the upcoming supply of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate those who are waiting for their second dose, a senior official was quoted as saying by PTI.

According to the officials, there were around 8.44 crore people in West Bengal who were yet to get the second dose due to a scarcity of vaccines.

"In this context, we have decided to use 50% of the vaccines which are supposed to be delivered to the state for the second dose. This formula may continue till further order," he said

There are around six lakh doses in the central store of the state health department now, the official said.

"Presently, the state has the capacity to vaccinate at least five lakh people daily, which can be stretched to seven to eight lakh, subject to the availability of vaccines," he said.

"We expect to get four lakh doses by tomorrow evening. But that is also inadequate, considering the present level of around three lakh vaccination daily," he added.

The official further informed that 2.17 crore doses have so far been administered in the state till Tuesday through more than two lakh sessions in the government and the private sector.

"The vaccine utilisation is one of the best in the country and the net wastage is in the negative," the official said.

The state has given due priority to the elderly and vulnerable population and was able to make a perfect proportion of vaccination under different age brackets, he said.

"Among those vaccinated, 63.39 lakh people were in the age group of 18-44 years, 82.56 lakh in the 45-60 years age group and 71.11 lakh people are above 60 years of age," he said.

Altogether 2,76,378 people were vaccinated in the state on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the state's Covid-19 death toll rose to 17,679 with 35 more fatalities, while 1,595 fresh cases of infection took the tally to 14,98,305, the health department said.

Since Monday, 2,024 recoveries were registered, taking the discharge rate to 97.41 per cent. The number of active cases is 21,116, the department said in a bulletin.

In the last 24 hours, at least 53,166 samples were tested in the state.

Delayed drive

A health department official had earlier last week that the universal vaccination programme -- aimed at inoculating people in the 18-45 age group free of cost -- was delayed in West Bengal due to a paucity of jabs.

"We have vaccine shortage here, the reason why we are not administrating the doses at that pace," Kanka Chakraborty, medical staff at the vaccination centre of Basanti Devi College in Kolkata told news agency ANI.

"We will try to utilise all the vials that we have received today," she added.

With inputs from agencies.

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