Daily Cases Falling, Vaccine Shortage Karnataka's New Cause For Concern

Experts say that while daily case count may be falling, there is no room for a let-up in vaccination. AFP


The slide in daily Covid case counts over the past few days would have brought some relief to the Karnataka government, but the demand and supply gap in vaccines has emerged as an area of concern.

On May 11, the state government announced that it would float global tenders to procure 2 crore vaccine shots.

Pfizer and Moderna have already indicated that they will not supply vaccines directly to states but only to the central government if and when any agreement is worked out.

Two companies have responded to the Karnataka government’s call for tenders, both offering to supply the Sputnik vaccine. One company has offered to supply the regular two-dose vaccine and the other has offered the single-dose Sputnik Light, which would be available only by the end of the year. Both companies have asked for two more days to submit financial and technical documents.

The Congress has been critical of the state government’s vaccine acquisition strategy and has sought permission to procure shots worth Rs 100 crore. The Opposition party, however, has not provided clarity on where they plan to source the vaccines from.

State Congress president D K Shivakumar told NDTV, “Whatever the government has taken up as a global tender, the central government has to take up this initiative. Please allow us, with our MP funds, we are taking you into confidence. We know it is government money. We will put Congress workers’ money also and we will call for a tender.”

Karnataka on Tuesday reported 22,758 cases — a sharp slide from about three weeks ago when the state was recording nearly 50,000 cases daily.

Experts say that while the daily case count may be falling, largely because of the lockdown restrictions, there is no room for a let-up in the vaccination drive.

Dr Vishal Rao, a member of the Karnataka Covid Task Force, told NDTV, “The current situation seems to be a concerning one. As the population is demanding a vaccine, there seems to be a colossal shortage of it. There are about 22 counties across the world that have completed their trials in vaccines of which 14 or more are, I think, currently in the market. There are the WHO’s Stringent Regulatory Authorities and I think one of the options is to let all of these global vaccine providers come into India and help at this juncture. Otherwise it is going to be a long haul. We need to get the population vaccinated before the new mutants learn to escape the vaccine.”