Some states, including hardest-hit Maharashtra and Odisha, have complained of a scarcity of vaccines during a second wave that has forced some centres to turn away people. (Representative Image)
Maharashtra, which has been reporting the most number of coronavirus infections in the country for the last several days, has shut over 125 COVID-19 vaccination centres as it faces a shortage of vaccine doses, reports have said.
At least 26 centres have been shut in the state capital Mumbai, including 23 in Navi Mumbai. Besides, 100 centres in Pune, Sangli, Satara and Panvel have also been shut, NDTV reported.
The shortage has pitted Maharashtra against the Centre, with the state accusing the Union government of discriminating against the state in vaccine allotment. The Centre, in turn, has accused the state of mismanaging the crisis.
Vaccination could not take place at 25 private Mumbai hospitals due to a shortage of doses, news agency PTI reported the city civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as saying.
The BMC in a release said the jabs couldn't be administered at 25 of the 71 approved vaccination centres as the doses had run out. The current stock would “last only for a day” and it was making efforts to procure more shots, BMC said.
At present, the civic body has activated 120 COVID-19 vaccination centres, 49 of them run by the Maharashtra government and the BMC, across Mumbai, it said.
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On April 8, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope alleged “discrimination” from the Centre, saying fewer vaccines were allotted to Maharashtra despite a high number of cases in the state.
"According to the latest release order of vaccines from the Centre, Maharashtra has only been given 7.5 lakh vaccine doses while Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana have been given far more vaccines," Tope told ANI.
Tope said that he has raised the issue with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. "He assured me that corrections will be done soon. We are still waiting. We want 1.6 crore vaccine doses per month and 40 lakh every week because we are vaccinating 6 lakh every day," Tope said.
Also Read | Centre discriminating against Maharashtra by allotting fewer doses: Rajesh Tope
The minister said the shortage was acute and the vaccination drive had to be stopped in the districts of Satara, Sangli and Panvel, while Buldhana only has a day's stock left.
Tope had on April 7 said Maharashtra had 14 lakh doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which would last only three days, and many inoculation centres were being closed due to the shortage.
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In response to Tope’s accusation, Vardhan lashed out at Maharashtra and other states, accusing them of trying to cover their "failures" by making "irresponsible" statements and spreading panic among people.
In a strongly-worded statement, Vardhan rubbished the Maharashtra government's claim of shortage of vaccines as "utterly baseless", and said the "lackadaisical" attitude of the state government had "singularly bogged down" the entire country's efforts to fight the virus.
"The inability of the Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension. To spread panic among the people is to compound the folly further. Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and state governments are being apprised regularly about it. Allegations of vaccine shortage are utterly baseless," he said.
Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is part of the ruling coalition in the state, said on April 6 he spoke to Vardhan about the shortage, who had assured of “all help from the Centre”.
Terming the situation in Maharashtra as “grim”, Pawar said the rising number of COVID-19 cases was a cause of concern and the state government had no option but to impose curbs.
"The situation in Maharashtra is grim. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate by realising the seriousness of the situation. To protect the lives of citizens, some stringent measures are required," the NCP chief said.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here