Covid Vaccination Slowdown In UP, Bihar Raises Concerns Over Supply

Noida plans to resume COVID-19 vaccinations from next week with 40,000 jabs expected daily as Uttar Pradesh kicks off its massive vaccination drive, raising concerns whether the state has slowed down the process to save the doses for later.

COVID-19 vaccination rates are likely to decline in July as the supply rate will be lower.

New Delhi:

The government plans to vaccinate the entire adult population in India against COVID-19 by the end of this year but many parts in the two biggest states of the country are already running out of doses.

Empty vaccination centres in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have raised questions over the availability of vaccines in India.

In Uttar Pradesh's Noida, all 34 government vaccination centres remained shut for the second consecutive day today as the district ran out of vaccine shots.

Prem Kumar, 46, who went to a government district hospital in Sector 30 Noida to get vaccinated, said: "I went to three different centres - the district hospital in Sector 30 and two other community health centres - but none of them have any doses. I had a slot booked for today and got no information that vaccinations are not happening today."

At a community health centre in sector 110 of Noida, 27-year-old Manvi also failed to get the shot. "I had read that walk-in vaccinations were happening at government centres so I came here. But it is shut. I will have to come all the way back again tomorrow," she said.

Medical Superintendent of the centre Dr Yatendra Singh said: "We vaccinate 500 people daily over here. But due to lack of supply of doses currently vaccinations are not happening. Those who had slots for June 29 and June 30 can get vaccinated on July 5 and July 6. We will also resume vaccinations normally from tomorrow as fresh supply of doses will come."

Noida's vaccinations dipped to 6,000 on Tuesday while it usually administers 20,000 doses daily.

The vaccination rate has also dipped across Uttar Pradesh -- from recording the highest ever inoculations on June 24 with more than 8.5 lakh plus doses to just 1.8 lakh doses on Tuesday.

The Noida administration plans to resume vaccinations from Monday with 40,000 jabs expected daily as Uttar Pradesh kicks off its massive vaccination drive, raising concerns whether the state has slowed down the vaccination process to save the doses for later. 

Navneet Sehgal, Additional Chief Secretary of Information in the Uttar Pradesh government, said: "While it is true vaccinations slowed yesterday, the UP government has already crossed its '1 crore jabs in June target' and we are aiming to take the number of vaccinations from our 8 lakh per day figures to 10-12 lakh jabs a day in July. By August 31, we want to give out 10 crore jabs."

Even if the government does manage to administer 10 crore shots by August-end, it will only cover less than half of the state's total population.

Meanwhile, vaccination still remains a challenge in many parts of Uttar Pradesh with vaccine hesitancy still a big issue across the state's vast rural areas. In remote Sonbhadra, puppet shows, songs and dances are being used to encourage people to get vaccinated. Only 1.36 per cent of its 22 lakh population has been fully vaccinated till now.

In Bihar's Patna, vaccinations dipped from a record 76,000 on June 25 to 21,000 on Tuesday. And most of the government's 160 centres have run out of doses.

According to data based on the Health Ministry's affidavit in Supreme Court and the number of vaccinations done in India so far, vaccination rates are likely to decline in July as the supply rate will be lower than India's current vaccination rate for 23 out of 32 states and Union Territories.

The average vaccination rate in June for India was 40.3 lakh dose per day while in July, the average daily vaccine supply rate will be 38.3 lakh dose per day. This might end up resulting in a shortfall of 2 lakh doses per day.

Other states which have reported a shortage of vaccines over the past few days include Jharkhand, Gujarat, Punjab, Assam and Bengal.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed the landmark of 33 crore, the health ministry said on Tuesday.