Several hospitals in the city are facing a shortage of Sputnik V, the Russian Covid vaccine, resulting in recipients making queries on the availability of the precaution or booster dose.
Sputnik Light, or “Component I” of the vaccine, has been recently recommended by a central panel for the precaution dose.
After receiving the communication, the West Bengal health department asked private hospitals and vaccination centres to give the dose to those whose primary vaccination was done with Sputnik.
“However, during the interaction, most private vaccination centres told us they were unable to procure Sputnik Light. We have asked them to procure it from the manufacturers as soon as they can,” said an official in the state health department.
In Kolkata, there are fewer Sputnik recipients compared with those who have received Covishield and Covaxin shots, but the number still runs into thousands, health officials said.
Some hospitals have received a few doses recently but many said they are yet to procure any.
Most hospitals said there was no demand for the Sputnik precaution dose till a month ago. But people are now calling up for the third Sputnik dose following a renewed surge in Covid cases.
On Wednesday, West Bengal reported 2,455 new Covid cases.
“Precaution doses have been proved to be effective against the Omicron strain (of the coronavirus). It can prevent disease severity. So, whatever the Covid vaccine type, one should take the precaution dose,” said Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious disease expert at Peerless Hospital.
“We had procured 2,400 Sputnik doses. We have been trying for a month to get fresh stocks for the precaution dose but the manufacturer is unable to provide it,” said an official at AMRI.
Peerless Hospital had administered two doses of Sputnik V to 250 people. “We tried for a few weeks to get fresh doses but have been unable to do so,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences has been able to procure some doses recently. More than 8,000 people had their two doses of Sputnik V at the hospital.
“Last Saturday, we could procure 250 doses. Of them, 50 shots were given as precaution doses,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east and south, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.
“The manufacturers have told us that there was no clarity on precaution doses for Sputnik V, so they were not manufacturing the vaccine in bulk. Now that there is clarity, they have started bulk production,” said Venkatesh.
He said the doses at the hospital would expire this month but the manufacturers have promised to take back the unused stocks. “They, however, need some more time to provide clarity on further stocks,” Venkatesh said.
Some hospitals said there was still no demand for precaution dose of Sputnik.
“We have given first and second doses (of Sputnik) to around 800 people. The precaution dose of the vaccine was introduced only a month back, and we have very few queries,” said Komal Dashora, president, legal and compliance, Medica Superspecialty Hospital.
Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital had administered around 7,800 first and 6,500 second doses of Sputnik V.
“We had been continuously in touch with the manufacturer for precaution doses, which have finally arrived. We started administering the doses yesterday,” said Rupali Basu, managing director and CEO of Woodlands.