Vaccination of people above 18 years of age, which was supposed to start from May 1, may be delayed as the vaccines have not yet arrived, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said on Friday.
“It is not possible for us to start vaccinating people from 18 years to 45 year from tomorrow. Please don’t take it otherwise. The moment we get official information, we will let you know,” Mr Sudhakar said.
He was reacting to the Government of India’s direction to allow vaccinating people above 18 years from May 1.
“We have made orders to Serum Institute in Pune for over one crore doses but the official news is that they are still not prepared to give it to us from tomorrow as scheduled,” the Minister said.
He asked people who have enrolled themselves on the Cowin portal for inoculation to refrain from going to vaccination centres on May 1.
The Minister said the government will intimate eligible people after confirmation from Serum Institute of India about the arrival of vaccines.
“We have already paid Rs 400 crore to purchase one crore doses of Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in Pune,” the Minister said.
According to him, the Serum Institute has the capacity to produce five to six crore doses in a month while the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech can produce one to 1.5 crore doses.
Russia’s Sputnik has given licence to Dr Reddy’s Laboratory to produce the vaccine but they have not informed the government officially when they will be able to supply it.
To a question, when the vaccination for people above 18 years may start, Mr Sudhakar said he would not be able to give the exact dates.
“I cannot guess the date. I will prefer to tell the people about the date only after receiving the consignment from the vaccine manufacturing countries. I will not predict how many weeks it may take,” the minister said.
He, however, said the government will continue its efforts to get the vaccines at the earliest by building pressure on the companies to deliver the consignment at the earliest.
To a question on the price of vaccines, Mr Sudhakar said, “We have already announced that we will give the vaccine free of cost to everyone in the state. So there should be no confusion regarding it.”
Regarding the ongoing vaccination drive for people above 45 years of age, the minister said there is adequate stock for them to get vaccinated.
According to him, the state had received 99 lakh doses for those above 45 years of age, of which 95 lakh doses have already been administered.
The Minister said ever since the vaccination drive started in the state, the wastage is merely 1.4 per cent, which is the least compared to other states where the wastage is about eight to nine per cent.
To a question on people defying the lockdown which came into effect from April 27 night to May 12 morning, Mr Sudhakar said people are not taking the pandemic seriously despite media showing the plight of patients and families which lost their earning members.
“People should behave responsibly and follow the direction given by the government. If you ignore it, then you will repent,” Mr Sudhakar advised people.
The vaccination drive for general masses started from January 16 for the frontline workers.
From March 1, vaccination for all above 60 years and those above 45 with comorbidities while from April 1, everyone above 45 was eligible to take the vaccine.
Now, from May 1, people above 18 years will be vaccinated.
Many states including Karnataka have announced giving vaccines free of cost to everyone.
Karnataka has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days. The daily caseload of COVID has shot up beyond 35,000 cases, of which about 20,000 are in Bengaluru alone.
The active cases have touched close to 3.5 lakh in the state, and a majority of them are in the state capital.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)