NEW DELHI: Faced with an acute shortage of medical grade oxygen and vaccines in the wake of the massive second Covid wave that is nowhere near its peak, the Centre on Friday sought to ease all bottlenecks as part of its crisis management and step up their production.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did a comprehensive review of the oxygen situation and urged Union ministries and state governments to build synergy to address gaps in the system.
The meeting came a day after the government decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of oxygen after first claiming that there is enough production capacity within India to meet the demand.
To address vaccine shortage, the government sought to scale up production of the indigenous Covaxin developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, by providing `65 crore aid to the company’s unit in Bengaluru.
It has already allowed Mumbai-based Haffkine Institute to produce Covaxin on a technology transfer basis. Covaxin’s share in the current vaccine pool in just about 15%, as the present capacity of Bharat Biotech is about 1 crore doses a month.
The Centre plans to increase production to 2 crore doses by May-June and by 6-7 crore by July-August, for which talks are on with at least two more companies - Indian Immunologicals Ltd, Hyderabad and BIBCOL, Bulandshehar.
The meeting convened by the PM specifically took stock of the oxygen availability in 12 high burden states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. These states have already been allocated 4,880 MT, 5,619 MT and 6,593 MT for meeting their projected demand as on April 20, April 25 and April 30, respectively.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Friday wrote to the state chief secretaries, advising free inter-state movement of oxygen-carrying vehicles, saying no curb shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to impose geographical limits on supplies.
Meanwhile, a section of the saints camping in Haridwar for the Maha Kumbh were agitated after an akhada claimed the mela would end on Saturday. A final decision will be taken by the Akhada Parishad, the apex body of 13 akhadas.
As of now, at least 50 seers have tested positive for Covid 19. They include Mahant Ravindra Puri of the Niranjani Akhada who on Thursday announced that his akhada will consider closure of the mega event on April 17.
Variants of concern
Of about 14,000 Covid samples whose whole genomic sequencing has been carried out, 1,189 tested positive for variants of concern, the Centre said on Friday
Maharashtra Aurangabad district administration has acquired the oxygen plant of R L Steel in Chitegaon of Paithan to produce nearly 500 medical grade oxygen cylinders per day
New Delhi IndiGo to waive fee to change time or date on domestic tickets that are booked between April 17 and April 30 due to Covid. However, cancellation fee will be chargeable
Uttar Pradesh Full lockdown across all UP districts this Sunday
Andhra Pradesh Vaccine stock exhausted, just 4,300 doses could be administered on Friday; CM writes to Modi for 60 lakh more doses
O2 status check
Madhya Pradesh Daily supply up from 130 MT to 295 MT. In 34 districts. 1,273 O2 concentrators installed till date. Air Concentrator Units are being installed in 8 districts
BIHAR Govt claims oxygen availability is sufficient for the next 7-10 days. But private hospitals complain of oxygen scarcity
JHARKHAND Govt claims there is no shortage, but patients are facing problems in getting oxygen support. A special task force has been formed to address it