Maharashtra must be given preference for fresh Covaxin stock: Ajit Pawar

A health worker administers the COVID-19 jab at a vaccination centre at Radio Club in Mumbai on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said the State must be given preference in terms of vaccine supply after Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech fulfils its commitment to the Centre of delivering Covaxin stocks that would be rolled out in the firm’s new Pune facility in three months.

Mr. Pawar, who reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Pune on Friday, expressed hope that the firm would supply the vaccine to the State after it had fulfilled its delivery quota to the Centre.

“Bharat Biotech is going to produce vaccines at the Manjari plant and the Pune district administration has been asked to provide them with all requisite help like ensuring power supply to help set up its facility. Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao and District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh have visited the place … it is estimated that the firm will be rolling out vaccines in another three months. While half of the vaccines being produced there will be given to the Centre as per norms, Maharashtra must get preference for the remaining vaccine supplies,” said Mr. Pawar.

Biovet Private Ltd., an associate firm of Bharat Biotech, has said it was confident of making the Manjari plant fully operational within the next three months to produce Covaxin. The Bombay High Court had recently permitted Biovet to take possession of a ready-to-use vaccine manufacturing plant in the district.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister said the Maharashtra government has set a target of producing 3,000 metric tonnes of oxygen per day in readiness and anticipation of a possible third wave of the pandemic.

At the same time, Mr. Pawar urged the BJP-ruled Central government to transparently declare the total oxygen amount supplied to each State thus far, addding that help ought to be given to each State based on the number of COVID-19 cases they have.

“A lot of aid is flowing in from abroad and is being routed through the Centre. So, we expect transparency on the Centre’s part to declare how much of it is being distributed to the states,” the Minister said.

“We are taking measures to shore up our health infrastructure in anticipation of a third wave. Experts are cautioning that children will be the most vulnerable group in this wave … while the State government’s current oxygen producing capacity is 1,200 MT, a decision has been taken to increase it further to 1,800 MT to ensure there is no dearth of oxygen. We are planning to ramp up this capacity further to 3,000 MT in the coming days,” he said.

He also refuted the BJP’s allegations that the Chief Minister had not given permission to the Pune civic body, which is controlled by the BJP, to float a global tender to procure vaccines.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 6:45:45 AM |

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