Delhi will have to stop vaccinating people in the 18-44 age group from Sunday because of unavailability of doses, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has said, apprehending that the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.
In a webcast on Saturday, Kejriwal said: “Starting tomorrow, all the centres for vaccinating the youth will shut down. I am extremely saddened by the fact that we have to close down the centres for vaccinating the youth due to the non-availability of vaccines. We have told the central government in writing; we have asked for more vaccines from them.”
The chief minister added: “Delhi needs 80 lakh vaccine doses every month. We received only 16 lakh vaccines in May and the central government has reduced the quota for Delhi for June. The letter we have received from the central government mentions that we will be given only 8 lakh vaccines in June…. At this pace, if only 8 lakh vaccines are provided every month, it will take 30 months to vaccinate all adults in Delhi.”
Kejriwal stressed on a four-point prescription for the Centre, the first two of which he wants done within 24 hours.
“Firstly, Bharat Biotech that manufactures Covaxin is ready to give its formula to other companies. There are several vaccine-making companies in the country. The central government should immediately invite all those companies and give them an order, not request but order them that all those companies should start rapidly making vaccines.
“My second suggestion is that immediate permission should be given for the use of all foreign vaccines in India.”
The purchases should be done by the Centre for the whole country as it has greater bargaining power, the AAP leader said.
The chief minister added: “The third solution is that it has been in the news that many countries have accumulated more vaccines than what they need. They have stored vaccines more than their populations. The government of India should request them to give those vaccines to our country.
“The fourth suggestion is that all foreign vaccine manufactures should be immediately permitted to produce vaccines in India…. In the country, if a father, a son, a brother, a mother, or a sister faces such a complex situation where they have to choose whether they themselves get vaccinated or leave it for the youth of the family, then there can be nothing more saddening than this.”
More than 11,000 deaths — close to half of Delhi’s total toll from the pandemic — have been reported since April.
Kejriwal pointed to the second wave’s downward trajectory in Delhi. “In the past 24 hours, only 2,200 cases have been detected in Delhi. The infection rate has also declined in the past 24 hours and has come down to only 3.5 per cent,” the chief minister said.
The infection rate should ideally be below 5 per cent.
Preparations for a possible third wave of the pandemic have begun with the focus being on children and creating 50,000 more oxygen beds, including 10,000 ICU beds. Economic activities and food relief for daily wagers, however, remain at the bare minimum.