Punjab has only five days of coronavirus vaccines – three if the state reaches its target of two lakh shots per day – Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Saturday, becoming the latest state government leader to red-flag the issue of fast depleting stocks amid a deadly wave of new cases.
The Chief Minister, who is in a video meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and other party leaders, urged the centre to release the next batch based on confirmed orders for the next quarter.
“Punjab has only five days of supply (5.7 lakh vaccine doses) left at the current levels of vaccination – between 85,000 and 90,000 people per day. Hoping the centre will send fresh batches of vaccine supply soon. If the state is able to meet its current target – around two lakh shots per day – then existing supplies last only three days,” Mr Singh said in a statement issued this morning.
He also said he had written to both Prime Minister Modi and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan – who has slammed the “hue and cry (about vaccine distribution) by certain states” – to rush more stocks.
Mr Singh also said vaccination rates in his state – among the lowest in the country, according to the centre – were the result of “massive anger against the Government of India on the issue of farm laws”.
Farmers across India – led by those from Punjab – have been protesting the centre’s new farm laws for months, although the protests have quietened as the number of Covid cases rise.
Punjab isn’t the only state to warn of dwindling vaccine stocks.
Earlier today Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Congress-ruled Rajasthan, issued a similar warning. Mr Gehlot also wrote to the Prime Minister, asking for 30 lakh doses to continue vaccination.
“The present stock of vaccines in Rajasthan (which has reported high vaccination rates) will finish in the next two days… it is requested that at least another 30 lakh doses be provided,” he wrote.
The issue of shortage has been headlined by Maharashtra, where over 100 centres have been shut.
Jharkhand also warned of vaccine stocks running low; on Thursday Health Minister Banna Gupta told news agency ANI there were only two days of supply left.
The centre, though, has stressed that vaccines are not in short supply.
“All states are being provided with an adequate number of doses,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in Bengal to campaign for the BJP during Assembly elections, said today.
However, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute – the Pune-based firm that is the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, and which supplies around 65 million doses of Covishield per month – told NDTV this week that existing production capacities were “very stressed”.
He said SII needed Rs 3,000 crore and three months to scale up production, inviting a sharp retort from the centre today; AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said it was not “rocket science” to expect rampant demand for the vaccine, and that SII should have been better prepared.
This morning India reported over 1.45 lakh new cases in 24 hours – the fourth straight day with over one lakh new cases. The number of active cases has skyrocketed to over 10 lakh.
With input from PTI, ANI