Odisha Signals Alert for Covishield Vaccine Shortage

Bijay Panigrahi, Odisha’s Health and Family Department Director, has warned that the State’s reserves of the Covishield vaccine have reached alarmingly low levels and will only last for an estimated two days. The Covishield vaccine, based on the AstraZeneca antidote to COVID, is the one that is being administered to people across the state except in the capital city Bhubaneswar.

In an interaction with the press, Panigrahi said that there were only about six lakh doses of Covishield remaining with the state, which would take two days to be exhausted. However, he assured that Covaxin, the other vaccine candidate, is in abundant supply.

The Odisha government has written to the Centre, requesting more supplies of the Covishield vaccine. In fact, Health Secretary and top bureaucrat PK Mohapatra had written to the Union Health Secretary last month, highlighting the need for adequate supplies to continue uninterrupted vaccination drives across the state.

So far, Odisha has administered around 33 lakh doses of either vaccine, against a target of 1.16 crore. Recently, the Central government had published a notification that barred the fresh registration of frontline workers and healthcare workers for vaccination in the state.

The concern in this direction comes at a time when COVID cases are fast rising in the country and also in the state. Odisha has already imposed a night curfew in ten of its western districts as a precautionary move. Chattisgarh, which borders Odisha, now has the third-highest number of active COVID cases.

“Collectors and CDMOs of those bordering districts have been asked to take all necessary measures and intensify the vaccination drive to control the transmission of the virus. They have also been asked to focus more on the vulnerable groups there,” an official said.

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