NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Rajasthan, a big northwestern Indian state, said on Tuesday it had started limiting COVID-19 vaccinations to its major hospitals due to a shortage of doses, despite an assurance from the federal government that supplies were adequate.
The federal government said after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s principal secretary that there was no shortage of vaccine doses in the country and that there should be no stockpiling or hoarding by any state.
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is donating or selling vaccines to more than three dozen countries, drawing some criticism for not expanding its own immunisation campaign further.
“It is said that the central government will be able to provide more doses in 5-7 days only, which may cause problems in vaccinations,” Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Twitter.
“In view of this uncertainty, vaccination was continued only in medical colleges, district hospitals and private hospitals,” and the drive was stopped in some small, rural government health facilities, he said.
India has so far given 24 million doses to nearly 20 million people, with the pace picking up significantly since last week after more people became eligible.
And as demand has risen in India after a slow start and initial hesitation among people, Rajasthan has become the first state to publicly seek urgent replenishment of its stock.
India, which wants to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August, began its campaign in mid-January with the AstraZeneca shot and another developed at home by Bharat Biotech and a state institute.
After the United States, India has reported the world’s most coronavirus infections, which jumped by 15,388 on Tuesday to 11.24 million. Deaths rose by 77 – the lowest in many months – taking the total to 157,930.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Additional reporting by Chandini Monappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Giles Elgood and Nick Zieminski)