Out of Covaxin, Delhi government urges Serum Institute's Covishield to 'come to rescue'
New Delhi, May 13: After Bharat Biotech said it cannot supply more doses of Covaxin to Delhi, the city government wrote to the Serum Institute of India (SII) asking it to "come to its rescue", saying it has limited stock of Covishield for 18 to 44 years which will finish in one week.
To this, the SII said they are doing their best to meet countrywide vaccine requirements, official sources said. In a letter to the SII, Director of Family Welfare, Delhi Government, Dr Monika Rana said, "We rely on your support for provision of sufficient quantities of vaccine in a time-bound manner."
"Delhi has a limited stock of Covishield for 18 to 44 years which will finish in one week and vaccination centres will have to be closed due to non-availability of vaccines," she said.
"In order to prevent this, you are requested to come to our rescue and provide for more vaccine immediately," the letter read. Delhi is facing an unprecedented crisis and timely vaccination of all the eligible beneficiaries will help control the pandemic, Dr Rana said.
As per official sources, in reply to her letter, Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India said, "We fully understand your concern and assure you once again of our best efforts to meet the Delhi and countrywide vaccine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic."
"Under the leadership of our CEO, Adar C Poonawalla, the company has been working tirelessly to produce Covishield and is committed to further ramping up the production to its maximum rated capacity in coming two-three months to meet the COVID-19 vaccine needs of our country," Singh said in his letter.
"We are working to our best possible potential 24X7 to fulfil the Government of India, state governments, Union territories and private hospitals' vaccine requirements countrywide and are following Government of India's directions in this regard," he said.
On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal 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.
On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech has refused to provide "additional" vaccine doses to the Delhi government, a development that is likely to severely hamper the inoculation drive for people in the 18-44 age group.
The Delhi government had ordered 67 lakh doses each of Covishield and Covaxin on April 26, the deputy chief minister had said. AAP leader Atishi had also said Delhi received 2.67 lakh more doses of Covishield vaccine on May 11, but it has completely run out of Covaxin.
All centres administering Covaxin will be shut after Wednesday evening, she had said. There are 4.18 lakh Covishield doses left for people in the 18-44 age group. These can last up to nine days, according to government data. A total of 41.64 lakh doses were administered to beneficiaries across all categories in Delhi till Wednesday morning since the inoculation drive started on January 16.
Delhi has so far received 8.17 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines for the 18-44 years category, and over 43 lakh doses for 45-plus, and healthcare and frontline workers. Healthcare workers, frontline staff and those aged above 45 are being given jabs at 470 centres, whereas beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group are being inoculated at 394 centres.
According to the Centre's Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, states and private hospitals have to procure vaccines to immunise people in the age group of 18 to 44 years.