MUMBAI: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has said that the state had planned a big COVID-19 vaccination event for Saturday but has only received 3 lakh doses out of which 20,000 doses have been given to Pune district, adding that the state government does not even have the stock to vaccinate people aged 45 and above.
Speaking to reporters, Pawar said, "We had planned a big event for today but we received only 3 lakh doses for today. Out of that 20,000 have been given to Pune district. Today, we don't have vaccine stock to vaccinate people aged 45 and above hence vaccination centres in Pune district were closed."
The third phase of the vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age bracket started from Saturday in the country despite some of the states flagging the shortage of vaccines and expressing their inability to start vaccination of people aged above 18 years.
Pawar further said, "We had taken a decision in a cabinet meeting that people aged 18 to 44 years will start getting vaccinated from May 1. 5.71 crore people are there in this age category in Maharashtra and we have to vaccinate around 12 crore people. 6.5 crore vaccine doses were supposed to be purchased and we had approved that purchase. The state finance department is ready to clear the payment in one go."
He said that Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla had told Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that it was difficult for them to provide vaccines in such large amount, adding that to procure sufficient vaccine doses, the state government has also done bookings with Bharat Biotech.
"Adar Poonawala told the CM that it is difficult to give the vaccines in large stock. We have done booking with Bharat Biotech as well. We are trying to conduct the vaccination as early as possible. We are also trying to get the central government's permission for importing vaccines from other countries. The first lot of vaccines from Russia will be received today but its price is not yet clear," said the Deputy CM.
Responding to the state government's action on fire incidents in hospitals, Pawar said, "Fire audit of the hospitals was ordered. Most of the government hospital's audit had been completed as well, some are remaining and they too shall be covered soon. For private hospitals also an inspection has been ordered which will start very soon."
Further responding to a question on extended restrictions in Maharashtra amid rising cases, Pawar said, "Not only Maharashtra but many other states have imposed or extended lockdown."
The state government had on Friday extended the ongoing restrictions till May 15. The restrictions imposed to curb the infections were initially in place till May 1. Maharashtra recorded 66,159 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and the state currently has 6,64,683 active cases.