In absolute terms, Maharashtra has administered more covid-19 vaccine doses than any other state. But given its disease load, and when compared with other large states, Maharashtra’s vaccine performance leaves much to be desired
In absolute terms, Maharashtra leads all states on cumulative number of covid-19 vaccine doses administered: 8.9 million of the 90.1 million given nationally. That’s a share of 9.9%, which is higher than its population share of 9%. But seen in the context of the state’s case load, and compared to the vaccine coverage of other select large states, Maharashtra’s performance leaves much to be desired.
Maharashtra is consistently accounting for 50-60% of new covid-19 cases. As on 8 April, 56% of active cases in India were from Maharashtra. Yet, in terms of vaccines administered per capita, Maharashtra was not even among the top 10. The population of fifth-ranked Gujarat is about half that of Maharashtra, but it has given 93% of the doses that Maharashtra has. Rajasthan, with 0.63 times the population of Maharashtra, is a similar case.
On 7 April, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the state would run out of vaccines in three days as the Centre was not sending adequate stock. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan refuted that charge. This exchange happened as India finished the first week of phase III (when vaccination was thrown open to all above the age of 45 years) with an average of 3.58 million doses. That’s almost double that of the previous week.
Till the morning of 8 April, India had administered 90.1 million doses. Adjusted for population, Gujarat occupied the top spot (127.6 doses per 1,000 population), followed by Chhattisgarh (116.4 doses), Kerala (116.2 doses), and Himachal Pradesh (104.5 doses). Maharashtra was 18th, with 72.7 doses.
At a worldwide level, India retained its third position in terms of total doses administered, after the United States (168 million) and China (146 million), according to data portal Our World in Data. In terms of cumulative doses administered per 100 people, over the past week, India saw an increase from 5 to 6.3. Among major countries, Israel (117) leads the way, followed by UAE (88), Chile (59), UK (55) and US (50).
Even as vaccination picks up pace globally, the virus too is showing a resurgence in several parts of the globe, not just in India. In Brazil, the daily death toll crossed 4,000 for the first time. Governments initiated, or are considering, fresh defensive action. For example, Ontario, the most populous region in Canada, issued a stay-at-home order for a month. German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her preference for a short national lockdown to beat the fresh wave of infections.
India has shifted to a trajectory of above 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day. As many as 32 states and union territories reported an increase in cases for two straight weeks. A fortnight ago, this number was 29. Of the 32 above-mentioned states and union territories, 25 reported cases in all their districts. Maharashtra saw the highest spike in daily cases on a week-on-week basis (11%) followed by Punjab (8.8%), Chhattisgarh (8.7%), and Madhya Pradesh (6.3%).
More worryingly, the death rate is rising, though at 0.55%, it is significantly lower than the worst phase of 2020. In the week to 8 April, the increase in deaths was 1.9%, which is nearly double the week before. Over the past two weeks, 18 states have recorded more deaths. The big concern remains Maharashtra, where the death rate has more than doubled in 18 of 35 districts. 30% of deaths are from four districts: Nagpur, Thane, Nanded and Mumbai.
In Maharashtra, in the past week, new cases have more than doubled in 22 of the 35 districts as compared to two weeks ago. New cases are almost seven-fold higher in Bhandara and six-fold higher in Gondiya. At a national level, six districts recorded above 20,000 cases each this week, accounting for 38% of total cases. Five were from Maharashtra (Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur and Nashik) and one was from Karnataka (Bengaluru Urban).
The current wave in Maharashtra is said to be worse than the previous high observed in September 2020.
With hospitals in Maharashtra strained for capacity, the state government has brought back night curfew and restrictions. But vaccines remain an under-utilized tool in the state’s response. According to vaccine data on the centre’s Co-Win portal, stressed districts such as Nashik (55 doses per 1,000 population) and Thane (52 doses) have vaccination coverage rates lower than the national average (66 doses).
Maharashtra clearly needs to ramp up its pace of vaccination on an urgent basis.