Several states flag vaccine shortage as mass vaccination drive begins; India reports over 4L cases

Meanwhile, the Centre has released the first instalment of the State Disaster Response Fund of Rs 8,873.6 crore to the states due to the current Covid-19 situation
Representational Image
Representational Image

India created a grim global record with 4,01,993 new Covid-19 cases and 3,523 deaths in the last 24 hours. This comes on the day when the third phase of the vaccination drive starts. However, several states have said that they are facing a vaccine shortage and are unable to begin vaccination for those between 18-44 years of age.

According to reports, states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have reportedly said they are running low on vaccine stocks. However, the Centre government that the states still have one crore doses.

In Kerala, the state government has already placed an order of one crore from vaccine manufacturers, however, there is no clarity as to when these doses will arrive in the state. As on Saturday morning, the CoWIN app shows vaccination slots are available in some hospitals for those above 45 years of age. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier indicated that the vaccine drive would take off once Kerala receives the supply of vaccine doses.

The central government has released the first instalment of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) of Rs 8,873.6 crore to the states as the country battle’s the Covid-19 pandemic. On Saturday, the Union Ministry of Finance announced that the first instalment for Financial Year 2021-22 is released to all states.

According to reports, the Ministry said that the states could use up to 50%, i.e., Rs 4,436.8 crore of the SDRF funds for Covid-19 measures. Generally, the Centre disburses the first instalment of the SDRF funds only in June. However, the Finance Ministry released the funds early on the Ministry of Home Affairs' recommendation due to the current Covid-19 situation in the country.

Reportedly, the states can use the SDRF funds for meeting the cost of ventilators, air purifiers, strengthening ambulance services, Covid-19 hospitals, oxygen generation and storage plants in hospitals, Covid Care Centres, consumables, thermal scanners, personal protective equipment, testing laboratories, testing kits, containment zone, etc.

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