Dr Subhash Salunkhe, an adviser to the state government on Covid-19 told ET on Friday that there is an urgent need for vaccines to be given to the general population to prevent outbreaks like the one currently happening in several districts. The official stressed the urgent rollout of the vaccines as a mutation of the virus may render existing stockpiles useless.
“There are crores of vaccines lying idle with the companies that have manufactured them. Those who want to take the vaccines are not able to get it. We have a primary healthcare weapon that is the best equipped to fight it, yet we are not releasing it among the general population. This attitude of the ministry of health is not in the interest of the principle of public health. This is unacceptable,” said Salunkhe.
Salunkhe’s remarks come amid reports of a mutant strain being detected in Amravati and Akola. “We have suspicions that the virus may have mutated in Amravati though it needs to be confirmed by NIV. It again underscores the need for immediate vaccination for if the virus mutates like the one in South Africa then these vaccines would not be effective and would be useless,” said Salunkhe.
The senior health official said that he has made inquires with the Union health ministry and was told that vaccine rollout among the general population was being delayed because the ministry is developing an app to monitor the initial dosage and the booster dose and other technical issues related to the vaccine.
“The priority should be to have the vaccine rollout first that would save lives; here we have an absurdity of waiting to develop an app, while people are getting infected. Who would be responsible if people die? I would like to flag this issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to what is happening currently,” said Salunkhe.