Huge vaccine demand, less supply: DPH to HC

G. Srinivasa Rao  

There is a huge demand for COVID vaccine but the supply is less, said Director of Public Health G. Srinivasa Rao on Wednesday.

Attending the hearing of PIL petitions on COVID-19 connected matters in the Telangana High Court through virtual mode, the top official said that by July-end the State was likely to secure adequate supply of vaccines. Instead of solely relying on the Central government, the State had gone for global tenders to secure vaccines.

The Telangana government was procuring one crore doses of vaccines from two international companies, he told a Bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy. Already, lakhs of people in different age groups were vaccinated though it was a long way to reach cent percent vaccination in the State, he said.

Instead of the highly-priced drug being used for Black Fungus, the government had freshly started procuring a second drug which had the same efficacy as that of the first one. While the first drug cost around ₹3,500 for one vial, the second one was priced at ₹200 for one vial.

“Moreover, five vials of the first drug had to be used in a single day for a patient affected by Black Fungus, whereas one vial of the second medicine was sufficient for a day,” Mr. Rao informed the court. This was a big relief to poor patients, he added. There are around 800 persons affected by Black Fungus in the State, and 80% of them are in and around the State capital. Along with the government hospitals in the district, treatment was being extended to these patients in 72 private hospitals, he said.

Conceding that government could not start 14 RT-PCR labs in the State as assured earlier to the HC, Mr. Rao said all these labs would become functional in a fortnight. Assuring that government was geared up to meet the challenges of possible third wave of the virus, the Director informed the court that there was no proof that only children would be more vulnerable during the third wave.

He told the court that government had decided to equip all beds available in government hospitals with supply of oxygen. Already, all private hospitals were instructed to set up their own oxygen making plants. New permissions and renewal of licences of hospitals was permitted only on compliance with setting up independent oxygen plants, he said.

Replying to a query from the Bench, Mr. Rao said 90% of the complaints received from people about COVID-19 were related to excessive billing. He maintained that government had ensured ₹3 crore were returned to patients in complaints of excessive billing during first wave of the virus. Similar efforts would be continued now also, he assured the court.

He claimed that in one case, a hospital was compelled to return seven lakh rupees out of the ₹17 lakh it had charged a COVID patient. Mr. Rao also told the court that instances of hospitals threatening patient attendants not to approach authorities over exorbitant charges had come to government’s notice.

“In some cases, managements of hospitals were making the attendants sign papers in advance over treatment charges,” the director told the court. “We asked the hospital managements to be humane,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 9:49:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/huge-vaccine-demand-less-supply-dph-to-hc/article34711540.ece

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