When the drive commenced on Monday, there were only about 40,000 doses available. Officials had pinned their hope on another consignment arriving during the day. However, with the stock failing to arrive, there now are less than 15,000 doses available in the State after Monday’s vaccination drive. To put this in perspective, this is less than half of the number of doses that Greater Chennai Corporation alone administered last week.
Officials said several vaccination centres in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu, Coimbatore and Tiruchy did not have sufficient stock and had to turn away people who had scheduled to receive the shot on Monday. Madurai had already announced the suspension of the vaccination drive, as there was no information on the arrival of fresh stocks.
The crippling shortage has also hit the vaccination drives initiated by private organisations and non-governmental organisations along with the city Corporation, which now stand postponed indefinitely.
“We had to postpone the vaccination drive despite registering more than 300 people in the city for a single day. We had earlier postponed it to next week. But as the shortage is continuing, we will probably have to shift it to next month,” said R Praveen, a member of an NGO in Chennai.
‘Pasteur Institute ready to produce one crore vaccine doses a month’
Minister for Medical and Family Welfare Ma Subramanian on Monday said Pasteur Institute of India in Coonoor in the Nilgiris is ready to produce one crore doses of COVID vaccine a month if the Centre provides raw materials.
“During an inspection, authorities told us that the institute can produce one crore vaccine vials per month if the Centre grants permission and supplies raw materials,” said Ma Subramanian to media, after reviewing the COVID situation with Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan in Namakkal. They were also accompanied by Minister for Tourism M Mathiventhan and other officials.
The Minister said the institute was started by the Centre in 1907 with 303 permanent workers. The Centre government granted Rs 137 crore for its development in 2013 and work got over in 2019 and the institute is ready for vaccine production, he said.
“The Chief Minister has already written to the Centre to commence vaccine production at Integrity Vaccine Complex (IVC) in Chengalpattu. We are hopeful that production would begin soon in it,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that the Chief Minister will decide on the next course of action as there were no bidders for the global tenders floated by the State government to procure vaccines.
Subramanian also inaugurated a 10-bed pediatric ward for COVID treatment and another two-bed special unit to treat infants at Namakkal Government Medical College Hospital.
In Coimbatore, Municipal Administration Minister KN Nehru held a review meet and said COVID cases have dropped by 60 per cent in the district over the last few days. He said the district has adequate supply of medical oxygen and enough beds in treatment centres. He also said appointment orders were issued to 100 nurses on a temporary basis to overcome the shortage.