Several states have said they don't have enough jabs to begin vaccinating people in the 18-44 age group in Phase 3 of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive that is to kick in from May 1.
The Union health ministry, however, has denied any shortage of coronavirus vaccine in India. On April 29, it said that more than 1 crore doses are still available with states and UTs and they will receive over 20 lakh more doses within the next three days.
As the second wave of coronavirus rips through the country, efforts have been stepped up to inoculate as many people as possible but the availability of vaccines has pitted the states against the Centre.
India has approved three vaccines for emergency use. While Covishield, which is the local name for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech made Covaxin are in use, Russia’s Sputnik V is expected to be available in the coming weeks.
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Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Registration for the people in the 18-44 age group began on April 29. Beneficiaries can either register directly on CoWIN portal cowin.gov.in or through the Aarogya Setu app.
Here is the list of states and UTs that will not begin vaccination of the 18-44 age group from May 1:
Health minister Rajesh Tope has said that unless Maharashtra gets 25 to 30 lakh vaccine vials, it will not commence the inoculation drive for people in the 18-44 age group. "Stock should be sufficient for at least five days to start the vaccination drive," he said. Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in the country, reporting the highest number of infections and deaths for days now. The state has extended by another 15 days the lockdown-like restrictions to break the chain of infections.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said the state will start inoculation of those in the 18-44 age group "as and when" vaccine doses are available.
Read: US to send 20 million AstraZeneca doses to India
Sawant said Goa had ordered five lakh doses of Covishield. "Vaccination for the 18-45 age group will progress as and when we receive the doses," he said.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group would not start on May 1, as the manufacturers failed to supply enough vaccine doses in time.
"On contacting the manufacturers of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines we learnt that they are unable to give us doses for those above 18 years of age on May 1. So the drive covering the young people won't start on May 1," Chouhan said, adding, "hopefully we will be getting vaccine doses around May 3".
Also read: Mumbai stops COVID-19 vaccination drive till May 2 due to shortage of jabs
DelhiHealth minister Satyendar Jain said the city doesn't have vaccines for the 18-44 age group to start the drive on May 1. "At present, we don't have vaccines. We have requested the companies to provide it," Jain said. Delhi is one of the hardest-hit cities, as fresh cases remaining stubbornly high and patients left scrambling for hospital beds, oxygen and life-saving medicines.
OdishaOdisha is facing an acute shortage of Covishield vaccines, forcing people to wait for the second dose of the jab for a week. Keeping in view the prevailing shortage of vaccines, the state government is not sure whether it can start the third phase of vaccination from May 1.
Read: Delhi doesn't have enough doses for 18-44 age group: Satyendar Jain
"We can make a plan for this phase after getting to know about the vaccine stock available with the state government," Director of Family Welfare Bijay Panigrahi said, as per a PTI report.
GujaratChief Minister Vijay Rupani has said the COVID-19 vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group in the state will start "latest" by May 15 instead of May 1.
"Vaccination for 18-44 age group will begin once we get substantial doses of vaccines from the pharma companies, which is likely to happen soon. Latest by May 15, the drive will start as we expect to get vaccine doses any time before that date," Rupani said.
Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on April 29 said that the vaccination drive for all above 18 years may get delayed as the state didn't not have enough vaccine doses.
"We are not getting adequate doses of vaccines. That is why we are facing problems. We have staff and required infrastructure for vaccination," Sidhu said. Asked whether the state will be able to start the drive for the 18 plus group from May 1, the minister said, "I feel that we may not start by that time."
The Chief Ministers Office on April 30, also said the same, that vaccination cannit begin as scheduled due to the non availability of vaccines.
TelanganaTelangana health department said though the state government was in touch with vaccine manufacturers, there was no certainty on when the stocks would be available for the mass vaccination.
"We are in touch with the manufacturers also. We are in search of the vaccine. We require around four crore doses," Telangana Public Health Director G Srinivasa Rao told PTI.
Also read: MP, Andhra Pradesh postpone COVID-19 jabs for 18-44 age group
Andhra PradeshVaccination drive for 18 plus category may not begin from May 1 in Andhra Pradesh, PTI reported, citing a senior official. The official said the state government has already written to the manufacturers for vaccine supplies and yet to get confirmation from them, hinting that there may be a delay.
An official release from Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's office on April 29 said as per the availability of stocks and eligible people (18 to 44 years) in the country, the complete vaccination process for them will not be completed until January next year.
India is facing a debilitating surge in coronavirus cases and has been recording more than 3 lakh daily infections for the past few days. On April 30, the country registered 3,86,452 new infections, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to over 1,87,62,976, while active cases crossed the 31-lakh mark.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa also said the state has not been supplied with vaccines and hence vaccination for 18 years and above will only start once the supply comes in.
The advisor to the Union Territory, Manoj Parida has said vaccination for above 18 will not begin on May 1. "In Chandigarh vaccination for those above 18 will not start on 1st May. Vaccination for those above 18 years will start only after adequate extra supplies are received", said Parida.
Speaking to CNN News 18, TS Singh Deo, Health Minister of the state hinted that they might not be able to start vaccinating 18 above from May 1, as they still haven't received any doses.
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