Tinsukia: Amid a massive record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, reports of shortage of vaccines are emerging from various districts of Assam.
The development comes in the backdrop of several states already complaining about shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. The list includes Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
“Up to 366 vials of COVID-19 vaccines are available in all the 24 cold chain points (CCPs) in the entire Tinsukia district. This includes nine vials in the district vaccine store,” Dr Romen Sonowal, additional chief medical and health officer of Tinsukia, told EastMojo.
According to Sonowal, on an average, they are vaccinating 3,000 persons on a daily basis. “A single vial of COVID-19 vaccine can vaccinate around 10 persons,” he said.
“The director of health serivces & family welfare has informed us on April 5 that vaccine supply will be provided after Bihu,” he added.
Sonowal’s admission indicates that the district health authorities will be able to vaccinate people for just one or two days if additional supplies don’t reach them immediately.
In the neighbouring Dibrugarh district, the scene is not too different.
The office of joint director of health services (JDHS) on Thursday wrote a letter (Jt. DHS/Covid-19/Vaccination/2020-21/2193 dated April 9, 2021) to four private hospitals instructing them to continue with only the “second dose of COVID-19 vaccine” due to “acute shortage”.
Confirming the development, JDHS Dr Krishna Kemprai said, “We held a meeting with the additional deputy commissioner (health) and other stakeholders where it was decided to stop the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine until further orders at private hospitals.”
“It was decided that due to acute shortage, only the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine (Covishield / Covaxin) will be given in the covid vaccination centre,” Kemprai added.
A reliable source in the Jorhat district adminstration has also confirmed the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Jorhat district.
“We have stock of 270,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of today. On Wednesday (April 8), I wrote a letter to the government of India informing that we will be able to carry out vaccination in the state of Assam for two to three more days, after which we will be not in a position to conduct vaccination. Hence, I have requested them to initiate additional supplies of COVID-19 vaccines,” Munindra Nath Ngatey, director of health services & family welfare, told EastMojo.
In connection with the Dibrugarh letter, Ngatey said that it was issued by JDHS Dibrugarh and is only for private hospitals. “We have enough vaccines available at government institutions in Dibrugarh district to vaccinate people for two to three days,” Ngatey added.
Denying any statement regarding availability of vaccines only after Bihu, Ngatey said, “This is a false claim as I have not made any such sort of statement to anyone.”
On the other hand, mission director of National Health Mission Dr S Lakshmanan rubbished reports of shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Assam.
Lakshmanan told this correspondent that they have around 270,000 doses of vaccines available in the entire state of Assam which have been distributed among various locations where people are being vaccinated. “There may be a couple of locations where there may be shortage of vaccines and will be looked into,” Lakshmanan said.
“As such, to say Assam is facing shortage of COVID-19 vaccine is incorrect,” he added.
“On an average, we are vaccinating between 40,000 and 50,000 persons on a daily basis in the last three days,” Lakshmanan said.