STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: The Centre on Friday told the Lok Sabha that no fixed timeline can be indicated now for the completion of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country in view of the dynamic and evolving nature of the pandemic but it is expected all beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be inoculated by December this year.At the same time, the Centre asserted that the pace of the COVID vaccination across India is amongst the fastest in the world.The Centre’s position on the pace of the vaccination drive against COVID was spelt out by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. An identical reply was given by his deputy Bharati Pravin Pawar in the Lower House in response to a question by Congress member Rahul Gandhi and TMC’s Mala Roy whether the government proposes to complete the exercise of full COVID vaccination of all adults by the end of the year.Pawar also said there has been no delay in entering into purchase agreements with domestic COVID vaccine manufacturers and advance payments have also been made for the supply orders placed with them.Mandaviya said COVID-19 vaccination is an ongoing and dynamic process, which is being guided by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) on the basis of concurrent scientific evidence.“In view of the dynamic and evolving nature of COVID-19 pandemic, no fixed timeline at present can be indicated for the completion of the vaccination drive, however, it is expected that all beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021,” he said.On related issues, Mandaviya said while there have been instances of vaccine wastage in states and Union territories (UTs), but extra doses have also been extracted from a given vial according to the Co-WIN portal.The vaccine doses wasted and maximum possible doses extracted beyond the labelled quantity are taken into account to arrive at vaccine wastage figures for a state, he noted.Mandaviya was responding to a question on whether the states/UTs are not keeping up the pace of the vaccination and wasting the doses.Between May 1, 2021 to July 13, 2021, a total of 2.49 lakh doses were wasted, while 41.12 lakh extra doses were extracted beyond the labelled quantity, he said.Asked whether the government is aware that many inoculation sites got closed down due to non-availability of vaccines there, Minister Pawar said there has been no shortage of vaccines and that the Central Government has been providing free supply of vaccines to states and UTs for administration to prioritised beneficiaries as recommended by NEGVAC.Advance visibility of vaccine allocation — total doses that would be available for states and UTs — are provided 15 days in advance to enable them to plan for acceleration of vaccination coverage while being cognizant of the available vaccines, she added. To a question whether the government has taken note of a significant delay in entering into advance purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers, thereby adversely affecting the pace of the vaccine rollout, the minister said there has been no delay in entering into purchase agreements with the domestic vaccine manufacturers. Advance payments have also been made to the manufacturers for the supply orders placed with them, she added.On the quantum of funds spent on the vaccination programme, Pawar said Rs 9,725.15 crore have so far been spent including for the procurement of vaccines and the operational cost for vaccination.
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