Tamil Nadu will import anti-coronavirus vaccines for the 18-44 age group by way of global tenders, Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Wednesday, joining several other states that have turned to international markets for procurement of the Covid jabs as domestic supplies dwindled amid a devastating spell of the deadly disease.
MK Stalin, who took the oath of office last week after steering his party DMK to a massive win in the recently concluded assembly elections, said his government will expedite import of the vaccines and ensure swift vaccination of the 18-44 group.
"We have received 13 lakh doses for the 18+ group so far. This is inadequate," he said.
The central government opened the vaccination drive to all adults from May 1. The government directed vaccine manufacturers to allocate 50 per cent of the total doses to the centre; the remaining 50 per cent are to be sold to states and private hospitals.
The inoculation drive, however, has drastically slowed down since May 1.
Several states, including Delhi, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, have complained about a severe shortfall in vaccine supplies. Many states are now focussing on inoculating those who need the second dose and people aged 45 and above. They say they don't have enough vaccines to scale up the drive. Many others have been running symbolic vaccinations for the 18-44 group.
As the second wave of the coronavirus ravages the country, many states are trying to ramp up their vaccination drives. Experts say expediting inoculations is the only way to prevent dangerous Covid waves like the present one.
Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and several other states are also taking the global tender route to augment vaccine supplies.
India on Wednesday saw a record rise in COVID-19 deaths with 4,205 fresh fatalities. 3,48,421 new coronavirus infections were also reported in 24 hours.
The country's active caseload is a whopping 37,04,099 – which is exerting tremendous pressure on the already crumbling health infrastructure.
The centre today said the cumulative number of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has exceeded 17.52 crore. More than 24.4 lakh vaccination doses were administered in the last 24 hours, it added.