Stating that the issue of vaccine shortage, as reported by some States in India, is more about the need for better planning rather than actual shortage, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday that 2,01,22,960 COVID-19 vaccine doses are in the supply pipeline to be provided to States/UTs.
“Doses received by States/UTs stands at 13,10,90,370 while total consumption including wastage is 11,43,69,677 and balance availability with States/UTs is 1,67,20,693 as on April 13, 11 am. Issue is about better planning and not shortage. On one hand, we have states like Kerala where there is zero wastage (of vaccine) and on the other hand, we have several other states where there still is 8-9% of wastage,” Mr. Bhushan said at a Health Ministry press conference on Tuesday.
Replying to a question on effectiveness of the available vaccine, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava, said the vaccines available are disease-modifying vaccines. “After both doses are administered, antibodies develop and severity of infection and chances of death are lowered. There is a 85% reduction in chances of hospitalisation after vaccination,” he said.
V.K. Paul, member (Health), NITI Aayog, also present at the conference, said that there should be no question of use of Remdesivir (for COVID-19 treatment) in home setting. “This is required for those individuals who require hospitalisation. We appeal for rational use of Remdesivir,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday said that the second wave of the pandemic has created an unprecedented demand for Remdesivir injection, resulting in demand and supply mismatch and an artificial panic. There is non-judicious use of this drug in many places beyond the scope of its evidenced based benefits.
“The public as well as the medical community must be aware of the absolute indication of the drug and need to use it judiciously so that the drug is used for those patients who will be benefited,” said IMA. The appeal comes at time when the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) has written to the Prime Minister seeking help to counter the “prevalence of VIP culture in government hospitals”.
In its letter, the association said that while doctors who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 are risking their lives every day — if infected they have no separate counter, priority for testing, reserved beds etc.— priority is being given to all the so-called politicians and party workers who have actually held rallies and increased the spread of viruses.
It added that even with a VIP counter, several politicians call doctors to their residence for check-ups and testing. “Majority of the politicians call doctors at their residence which has no legal order from the medical Superintendent but is carried out informally,” the letter noted.
It said that they call on doctors working in government hospitals, which in turn further reduces and limits the medical manpower available. Stating that IMA strongly opposes prevalence of this VIP culture, doctors have urged the Prime Minister to “look into the matter seriously.”