KOLKATA: Contending that the Centre's "irregular" supply of COVID-19 vaccines has slowed down the inoculation drive in West Bengal, a senior health department official on Monday said that the state government was finding it difficult to evenly distribute the doses among its 23 districts.
Bengal, which has received 2.30 crore doses thus far, has vaccinated over 1.77 crore people with the first jab, and more than 62 lakh residents with both the shots, he noted.
The state has spent Rs 59 crore to procure 18 lakh doses on its own, he said.
"West Bengal's inoculation process is moving at a snail's pace, the reason being irregular supply of doses by the Centre. If this trend continues, the drive will come to a halt at one point in time," the official told PTI.
He further asserted that the state has the capacity and infrastructure to vaccinate at least five lakh people every day.
"In UP and Bihar, health officials are sitting idle with vaccines at the camps. The situation here is just the opposite. We are not getting enough doses. We could have easily inoculated several lakh more people in our state if the supply had been smooth," he underlined.
According to the official, the government was having a tough time distributing the vaccines evenly.
"If we release vaccines for the districts in the northern part of the state then the drive gets hit in south Bengal. We have to plan the programme in accordance with the supply. Those waiting for the second dose are being given priority," he said.
Bengal occupies the "third spot" in the country when it comes to administering the second dose, the official claimed.
Incidentally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to send at least three crores vaccine doses to the state to ensure a smooth inoculation programme.
Banerjee recently said that the PM has not responded to her request.
Meanwhile, as many as 885 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported from West Bengal on Monday, pushing the caseload to 15,13,014, a health department bulletin said.
The COVID-19 death toll went up to 17,927 with 11 more fatalities.
While there were no COVID-19 deaths reported from North 24 Parganas district on Monday, the city registered only one death, the bulletin said.
The state now has 14,531 active cases and 14,80, 556 patients have recovered thus far, including 1,244 in the last 24 hours.
In the last 24 hours, 45,287 samples have been tested for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, 1,93,811 people have been inoculated in the state on Monday, an official of the health department said.