Many inoculation centres in Maharashtra are being shut due to the shortage of coronavirus vaccine, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday, adding the state now has 14 lakh doses which would last just three days.
A senior health official said Maharashtra will run out of the vaccine stock “Wednesday or Thursday”.
“There are not enough doses at many vaccination centres and people coming there have to be sent back due to the shortage,” Tope said.
The Centre should ensure that those in the 20-40 age group be vaccinated on priority, he told reporters.
“Fourteen lakh doses are available now which would last three days. We need 40 lakh vaccine doses every week. We can then administer six lakh doses every day in a week. The doses we are getting are not enough,” he said.
Tope said the state government was earlier vaccinating four lakh people in a day.
“We accepted the challenge from the Centre to expedite the vaccination drive to six lakh per day. Now we were vaccinating nearly 5 lakh people in a day,” he said.
The minister urged the Centre to give priority to Maharashtra, since the coronavirus cases were more in the state and the overall death toll was over 50,000.
“Most of those infected now are in the age group of 25 to 40 years,” he said.
There is an urgent need to control the viral infection by increasing the immunity level of people and creating antibodies, Tope said.
He also urged the National Centre for Disease Control to inform the states if the present infection spread is because of a new mutant strain of the virus.
“If that is the case, please tell us what is the course of medication,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the state principal secretary (health) Pradeep Vyas told PTI that several districts in Maharashtra will run out of the COVID-19 vaccine stock “today or tomorrow”, adding the Centre has been informed about it.
Maharashtra can easily administer five lakh vaccine doses in a day if there is clarity on schedule and availability, the official said.
Tope said about 1,200 metric tonne oxygen is being manufactured in the state every day and the daily consumption is 700 metric tonne, of which 80 per cent is for medical use.
Tope said he has asked the Centre to direct neighbouring states to facilitate oxygen supply to Maharashtra.
Tope also asked all private doctors not to prescribe Remdesivir injections irrationally to hike the bills of COVID-19 patients, and that they should also follow the central government’s guidelines on the use of the medicine.
He said Maharashtra has followed the ‘3T’ (testing, tracing and treatment) principles strictly and taken all steps to ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour by imposing prohibitory orders and night curfew to stop crowding. Nearly 82 lakh people have been vaccinated so far in Maharashtra since the roll-out of the inoculation drive.
An official statement on Tuesday said Maharashtra had received 1.06 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, out of which 88 lakh doses have been used while the wastage stood at three per cent.
It said the state government will vigorously pursue its demand for more stock of vaccine doses, considering the rapid rise in the COVID-19 cases and expansion of the vaccination drive.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow people above 25 years to receive COVID-19 shots, which he said will protect the young people from the rapid spread of the viral infection at a time when they are stepping outside their homes to earn a livelihood.
In a letter to Modi, Thackeray also demanded that Maharashtra be provided 1.5 crore additional doses of vaccines, which will enable the state government to complete within three weeks the vaccination of beneficiaries above 45 years of age in six districts, including Mumbai.