India's COVID-19 vaccination drive was expanded on March 1 to include senior citizens, and those aged 45-59 who have co-mobordities. (Image: AP)
At least 94.3 million COVID vaccination doses have been administered across India, according to the April 9 update of the government. The pace of vaccinations is increasing and India surpassed the US with nearly 3.7 million doses administered in a single day on April 8.
However, the vaccination drive could slow down or even halt temporarily because of reports of vaccine shortages across states. Although the Union government has refuted this claim, multiple sources in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) confirmed to Moneycontrol that the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme of exporting vaccines has been put on hold for the next one month or until the supply of vaccines for domestic requirements reaches an 'optimal level'.
The concerns about vaccine shortage emerge at time when India has reported at least 100,000 new cases for the last three consecutive days with Maharashtra being the worst affected. Of the 979,608 active cases in India as per the April 9 update, Maharashtra accounts for 53 percent or 522,762 active cases, followed by Chhattisgarh (68,125) and Karnataka (53,414). Maharashtra also reported the most 56,286 or 43 percent of new cases in the last 24 hours and 376 or 48 percent of the deaths.
The state has shut over 125 COVID-19 vaccination centers (26 in Mumbai) due to shortage of vaccine doses.
Of the total vaccinations administered till date across the country, 87 percent are recipients of their first dose while 13 percent have received the second dose. Among states, of the total doses (both first and second) Maharashtra has administered the most--nearly 9.3 million, followed by Rajasthan (8.8 million) and Gujarat (8.5 million).
To add some perspective, Maharashtra accounts for 9.9 percent of the total doses administered till date, higher than its (9.1 percent) share in the country’s total population (based on projected population for 2021). Rajasthan whose population (5.8 percent) is much lower compared to Maharashtra has fared better in administering the doses--with a 9.3 percent share in total jabs.
Look at it another way, Maharashtra has administered 75 doses per 1,000 population, much lower compared to some of the larger states such as Chhattisgarh (125.7), Gujarat (121.4) and Rajasthan (111.1). States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar--among the most populous--rank at the bottom.
Only about 6 percent of the country’s population has received their first jab of the vaccine, indicating a long road ahead. With surge in cases, experts suggest
the need to accelerate the pace of vaccination as well as strengthening containment. “Blaming each other isn’t helpful. What we need is to Regroup, Reinforce and Retaliate! against the common enemy, a sly virus,” says
Dr Giridhara Babu, an epidemiologist and a public health expert.