The Delhi government will float a global tender for procuring coronavirus vaccines, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday, as the city government grapples with a shortage of doses. He alleged that the BJP-ruled Centre was “forcing" state governments to invite global tenders for vaccine procurement.
The Central government wants the states to compete and fight with each other in the international market for vaccines, Sisodai alleged. Sisodia also demanded the Centre to launch a nationwide COVID vaccination drive on the line of pulse polio campaign.
AAP’s Atishi said 125 vaccination centres across the national capital meant for 18-44 age group will be shut tomorrow as they have run out of covaxin supplies.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over vaccine shortage, saying the Centre should share the vaccine formula of the two manufacturers with other capable pharmaceutical companies to scale up production in the country.
In his letter to Modi, Kejriwal said the entire country can be provided a “safety cover" by allowing more companies to manufacture the vaccines on a war footing ahead of the third wave of the pandemic.
He said the Centre can also terminate the monopoly on vaccine production through the patent law. There are two vaccine makers in the country currently — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — which are manufacturing Covaxin and Covishield respectively.
The two vaccine manufacturers can be given royalty from the profit of other companies for the use of their original formulas, Kejriwal said.
“Presently, only two companies are manufacturing vaccines in India. Providing vaccines to the whole country through two companies only is not possible. It requires ramping up vaccine manufacturing at war footing. I request you to grant permission for mass production of the vaccines," he wrote in his letter to Modi.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal told an online press briefing that the Centre has the power to do so at such difficult times.
There is an urgent need to ramp up the manufacturing of vaccines on a war footing while developing a national policy to inoculate everyone in the next few months, he said.
“Delhi is facing a shortage of vaccines. Some states have not even started inoculation because they do not have the required number of doses. The vaccine shortage has become a big challenge for the country," the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo said.
He said the Centre should ensure that all the vaccine manufacturing plants in the country start producing COVID-19 vaccines.
“The two vaccine companies in the country are currently producing around six-seven crore doses per month. At this rate, it will take two years to vaccinate everyone. Who knows how many waves of COVID will pass us by then and what will be extent of the destruction.
“The Centre should take the vaccine formula from these two companies and provide it to all those companies that can safely manufacture the vaccines," Kejriwal said.
Delhi has started inoculating people against the viral disease at a rapid pace and currently, around 1.25 lakh doses of the vaccines are being administered daily, the chief minister said, adding that this will be scaled up to over three lakh doses in the coming days.
“We aim to vaccinate everyone in Delhi in the next three months, but the shortage of vaccines is a major problem," he said.
Kejriwal said the national capital was left with vaccine doses for only a few more days and added that his government has been working on ramping up the oxygen and ICU facilities in the city for the last few days.
Delhi recorded 12,481 fresh COVID-19 cases on Tuesday while the death toll due to the viral disease climbed to 20,010 with 347 more people succumbing to it.
According to a bulletin issued by the city government’s health department, the test positivity rate stands at 17.76 per cent in the national capital.
(With PTI inputs)