Shortage of vaccines, supply glitches and politics make fight tough against pandemic

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Citizens breaking social distancing norms, wait to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Hengrabari Medical Unit, in Guwahati on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Our Bureau
Lucknow/New Delhi

In a major lapse and healthcare scare, 20 villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district were administered Covaxin earlier this month after they were given Covishield in the first dose. District medical authorities said an inquiry has been ordered in the matter. But people are demanding strict action for “criminal negligence”.

This has happened at a time when COVID-19 patients have been “struggling for beds, oxygen and medicines”, the vaccine which is available “is not being properly used”.

“Days after bodies were found floating in the Ganga River in the state, the government is now wrongly vaccinating people by mixing vaccine doses. This is still a subject of global research,” said a local leader.

India’s vaccine crisis is continuing amid the pandemic. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories on Friday said that it has not entered into any partnership for supplying Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to residential associations and has not authorized any third party or intermediary to supply the vaccine on its behalf in India.

A statement issued by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said that in the last few days, there have been several unsubstantiated reports and claims from various quarters in India on alleged tie-ups for the Sputnik V vaccine. RDIF markets the Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia.

A health worker administrating the Sputnik V vaccine to employees of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories during a pilot vaccination program at Apollo Hospitals Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad on Monday. (ANI Photo)

It said that Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories is the brand custodian of the Sputnik V vaccine in India and has the sole distribution rights of the first 250 million doses (first and second dose components included) of the vaccine in India.

Meanwhile, amid reports of shortage of its COVID-19 vaccine in the country, Bharat Biotech on Friday said that the timeline for manufacturing, testing, and release for a batch of Covaxin is approximately 120 days, depending on the technology framework and regulatory guidelines to be met. In an official release, the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer said the production batches of Covaxin that were initiated during March this year will be ready for supply only during the month of June, approximately after 120 days.

Bharat Biotech said the production scale-up of vaccines is a step-by-step process, involving several regulatory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Bharat Biotech further stated that based on Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) guidelines, all vaccines supplied in India are mandated by law to be submitted for testing and release to the Central Drugs Laboratory, Government of India. “All batches of vaccines supplied to State and Central Governments are based on the allocation framework received from the Government of India,” the company asserted.

Meanwhile, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat has termed as “false claim” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar’s remarks that vaccination against COVID-19 in the country will be completed before December this year. She alleged that “lies, more lies is hallmark of Modi government”.

“Lies, more lies and false claims, these are the hallmarks of this government. It is very, very unfortunate that Prakash Javadekarji is saying so when people are struggling to get vaccinated. He has made a mockery of insecurity that people are feeling today,” Karat told ANI. She alleged that Centre has still not learnt from the mistakes despite the “huge humanitarian crisis in India caused by the government’s policies”.

Also, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday took a sharp swipe at the Narendra Modi-led central government alleging that the Prime Minister, with his poor vaccine strategy, was responsible for the second wave of Covid-19 in the country.

The former Congress President also said that the Covid-19 death rate put out by the central government was inaccurate and underreported and if the Centre did not act immediately, it will be left grappling with several successive waves of the pandemic, as the virus goes on mutating. “The Prime Minister’s ‘nautanki’ is the reason behind the second wave of COVID19 in India. He did not understand COVID19. India’s death rate is a lie. The government should tell the truth,” Rahul Gandhi said at a virtual press conference.

The Central government, Gandhi said he did not “understand the nature of what they’re fighting”. “The government is not understanding the nature of what they’re fighting. Understand the dangers of mutation of this virus. You are creating a liability for the whole planet. Why? Because you are allowing 97 per cent of the population to be attacked by the virus as only 3 per cent are vaccinated,” he said. Gandhi said that despite warnings by him along with many other people ‘warned’ the Government of India about COVID-19 repeatedly, but the government only made fun of them and did not heed their warnings.

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