Mumbai: A day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan slammed the Maharashtra government for poor vaccination management, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope hit back at the Centre’s discrimination towards the state over vaccine supply. Maharashtra accounts for 55 per cent of the nation’s Covid caseload, so far. The state was initially allocated a paltry 7.40 lakh doses but after Tope’s talk with Harsh Vardhan, came the assurance of an additional 10 lakh doses by April 15. That means the Centre’s vaccine supply by April 15 will be 17.40 lakh.
Tope said 26 vaccination centres in Mumbai and others in Pune, Buldana, Sangli, Satara and Panvel had to be closed, as they had run out of stock.
“Why is Maharashtra, which is leading the vaccination drive and has the highest number of active cases, getting only 7.5 lakh doses?” Tope asked. He demanded that the Centre should increase the supply of vaccines to Maharashtra in proportion to its population and the number of cases. He noted that Maharashtra, which has a population of 12 crore, has received 1.04 crore doses so far, whereas neighbouring Gujarat, with half the population and 17,000 active cases, had got one crore doses.
The fresh infusion promised to Maharashtra was still inadequate as compared to the quantities being dispatched to Uttar Pradesh (48 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (40 lakh), Gujarat (30 lakh), Haryana (24 lakh), Karnataka (23 lakh) and Jharkhand (20 lakh). He said in view of the rising cases, the state needed 40 lakh vaccine doses per week.
Tope claimed that despite having double the population of Gujarat and active coronavirus cases, Maharashtra was not getting priority when it came to vaccine supply.
“We will maintain the vaccination level of six lakh doses per day. We will not go beyond that at this stage, but at least give us 40 lakh vaccines per week,” said Tope.
“Maharashtra is a big state, geographically and in terms of population…The Centre should compare Maharashtra with other states in terms of number of patients, tests, active patients,” he reasoned.
“We hardly have nine lakh doses left, which would last for another day or 1.5 days,” he said, adding that several vaccination centres in Satara, Sangli and Panvel had been shut due to the shortage.
Tope said the government did not want confrontation but expected the Centre’s cooperation in expediting the vaccination campaign in the state. He called upon the Centre to not politicise the issue but extend support during the present crisis. “We want the Centre to support us at this juncture, not oppose us. We are not pulling a political stunt and request him (Harsh Vardhan) to not politicise this issue either,” he added.
Tope said the Centre should clear the state government’s proposal to allowing Haffkine Institute to launch the production of Covid vaccines. Besides, the Centre should also allow vaccination for 18 years and above, he said.
Vaccine wastage is just 3.2%
The Maharashtra govt shot back at Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar over his remarks on the Covid vaccine wastage, saying there was more wastage in BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and UP.
Releasing official data, the state government said that in Maharashtra, vaccine wastage was just 3.2 per cent, whereas it was 17.5 per cent in Telangana, 11.5 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 9.4 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, 6.9 per cent in Karnataka, 6.5 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, 5.6 per cent in Rajasthan, 5.5 per cent in Assam, 5.3 per cent in Gujarat and 4.1% per cent in West Bengal.