Talks on with Sputnik V manufacturer for purchase price; State expecting 3.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir: Health Minister
Stating that there had been a decline in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday said that the State’s case positivity had come down from 27% to 22% without any change in the high number of samples being tested daily.
Mr. Tope said that the State had the highest recovery rate — above 85% — in the country. “While 15 districts, including Mumbai and areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region like Thane, are seeing a decrease in daily cases, others like Satara, Kolhapur, and those in Marathwada and Vidarbha are showing an upward trend,” he said.
The minister said COVID-19 cases were still on the rise in around 20 districts, including Sangli, Satara, Buldhana and Kolhapur, and the target was to reduce the caseload. “Some of these are reporting case positivity as high as 55%-60%,” he said, adding that the district administrations had been asked to ramp up the bed capacity in hospitals.
Mr. Tope also said that the State government was in talks with the manufacturer of Russian vaccine Sputnik V to negotiate a purchase price. He said the global expression of interest, floated by the State government for vaccine purchase, had received a good response from companies.
Commenting that Maharashtra’s high sample testing number remained unchanged, the Health Minister said, “Our daily test figures range between 2.5 lakh and 2.8 lakh samples of which RT-PCR (lab technique) accounts for 65% and rapid antigen tests are conducted for the rest.”
Mr. Tope said that the shortage of Remdesivir would be addressed soon with the State expecting around 3.5 lakh vials.
“We are also expecting 20,000 oxygen concentrators…it is the Chief Minister’s fervent wish that the State be self-sufficient in oxygen generation before we are hit by a ‘third wave’. We are also going to conduct an oxygen audit to prevent wastage and increase accountability,” he said.
Stating that vaccine shortage remained a critical problem, Mr. Tope said nine lakh vaccine doses of Covishield were received on Tuesday for the 45-plus age group.
“However, this stock will barely last for a couple of days…while we have vaccinated 45% of the beneficiaries aged 45 and above thus far, our vaccine stock had come down to barely 25,000-30,000 doses on Monday. As a result, we had to shut down several centres across the State,” the minister said.
Mr. Tope said that despite the crunch, the State had also managed to vaccinate nearly one lakh beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group since the third phase commenced on May 1.
Stating that the Maharashtra government had had no communication with Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla regarding the latter’s claims about receiving threat calls from political personages, Mr. Tope said that he planned to meet Mr. Poonawalla after his return from the U.K. to discuss vaccine procurement for Maharashtra.
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