Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray participated in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with CMs of 10 states with most Covid cases
MUMBAI: In a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray demanded additional supply of medical oxygen, permission to import stocks of the antiviral remdesivir injections and vaccines available in the international markets to speed up inoculation in the state.
Thackeray further said the government should allow private companies to purchase vaccines with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds. Thackeray said Maharashtra has 5.7 crore people who are eligible to get vaccinated in the next phase starting May 1 (in the 18 to 45 age group), for which the state will require nearly 12 crore doses. “Manufacturers in the country will not be able to produce vaccines in such huge quantities in such a short time. So, if a state seeks permission to import vaccines, it should be granted,” said Thackeray.
Public health minister Rajesh Tope said several states have also demanded a“one nation, one rate” policy for vaccines. Thackeray said the Centre should also increase the supply of vaccines for the 45-plus age group, which has been slow due to erratic and inadequate supply of doses from the Centre.
With rising demand for oxygen in the state, Thackeray said if oxygen-filled tankers cannot be airlifted, to save time, at least empty ones could be flown to a plant and, once filled, transported via railways or by road. “We tried to bring oxygen from Vishakhapatnam via railways but considering the time taken, help should be sought from the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force,” said Thackeray.
Maharashtra requires 1,500 metric tonne of oxygen a day, of which 300-350MT is being brought from other states. Maharashtra will require an additional supply of 250-300MT as cases are on the rise. Thackeray said instead of distant states, if supply could be arranged from neighbouring ones, it would be available early. There are nearly 60,000 patients in the state on oxygen support and 76,300 on oxygen beds. “Modi has also called for an oxygen audit to ensure there is no wastage and it is being used in the most effective way. We are taking steps to ensure that,” said Tope. Maharashtra has also sought 13,000 jumbo cylinders and 1,100 ventilators from the Centre.
Meanwhile, the state has stressed on the need for a study on the “double mutation” in the virus, which is reportedly causing a rapid spread. Genome sequencing of samples from the state must be done and fresh guidelines issued, if required. Thackeray said it is not known how effective remdesivir is, but is known to reduce hospitalisation. The state needs 70,000 vials a day but gets 27,000, and should be allowed to import it, he said.