Controversy over Remdesivir supply in Gujarat

There is a shortage amidst soaring demand as COVID-19 cases surge

Updated - April 11, 2021 12:40 am IST

Published - April 11, 2021 12:39 am IST - AHMEDABAD:

Remdesivir antiviral injectable drug. File

Remdesivir antiviral injectable drug. File

A new controversy has erupted over the supply of Remdesivir, a life saving drug used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients, with Gujarat facing a major shortage in its stock amidst soaring demand.

On Friday, State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief C. R. Paatil had announced in his home town Surat that 5,000 injections would be distributed by the BJP free of charge to the needy in the city of Surat, one of the worst-hit in Gujarat. Mr. Paatil made the announcement while visiting COVID-19 hospitals in Surat. However, his announcement could not have come at the worse time as the Vijay Rupani-led State government has been struggling to ensure adequate supplies of the injection to hospitals inundated with COVID-19-infected patients as the second wave of the pandemic grips the State.

On Saturday, the Surat BJP office began distributing injections to relatives of patients in need.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that 10,000 injections had been made available for Surat through special arrangements. When he was asked how Mr. Paatil could get the stock to be distributed his party in the diamond city, Mr. Rupani quipped: “Ask him [Mr. Paatil] how he has managed to get the stock.”

The State BJP chief’s move to distribute 5,000 injections was widely criticised by the Opposition and on social media platforms. They questioned his ability to mobilise supply when it’s regulated though government channels.

“There must be a probe by the State agencies into how the BJP president managed to get the stock of 5,000 injections when people are standing long serpentine queues to get even one injection in all major cities of the State,” said Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhvadia.

The State Congress president Amit Chavda also demanded a proble and accused the ruling party’s leaders of “hoarding the injections to create artificial shortage” in the State.

On Friday, the Chief Minister said in Rajkot that the State government had placed an order for 3 lakh injections from different manufacturers. India currently has six manufacturers of Remdesivir, who together produce about 3 lakh injections per day.

On Saturday, Gujarat recorded 5,011 cases and 49 deaths, taking its death toll to 4,746. The State’s active cases stood at 25,129. Health experts and government officials believe that there will be a significant jump in cases before the situation stabilises.

The Chief Minister said that government authorities had decided to set up COVID-19 care centres for primary treatment in community halls and small nursing homes in major cities, and only serious patients would be taken to hospitals. The centres equipped with basic treatment amenities will be primarily used to isolate patients without symptoms or those having mild symptoms.

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