20:41 GMT16 June 2021
Listen Live
    India
    Get short URL
    by
    231
    Subscribe

    Amid the catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Indians across the country are scrambling to book a slot on the government’s faltering CoWIN platform for their vaccination.

    India's federal government has been offering anti-COVID jabs for people aged 18 to 44 (800 million citizens) since 1 May. People need to register on the government-developed CoWin app before getting vaccinated. 

    However, many are reporting problems with the app and complaining that they can't register – as supplies of the vaccine dwindle. Some people in the state of West Bengal have turned up at hospitals only to be refused a jab because they've run out.

    A policeman asks people who came to receive a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to leave as they stand outside the gate of a vaccination centre which was closed due to unavailability of the supply of COVID-19 vaccine, in Mumbai, India, May 3, 2021.
    © REUTERS / FRANCIS MASCARENHAS
    A policeman asks people who came to receive a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to leave as they stand outside the gate of a vaccination centre which was closed due to unavailability of the supply of COVID-19 vaccine, in Mumbai, India, May 3, 2021.

    This happened to Disha Mitra. “After spending several hours on the app, I finally found a slot for vaccination. When I took my family and reached the facility, a big lock was hanging on the main gate. There were others who faced similar ordeal, but we had no other choice but to return,” she said.

    Disha recently lost her cousin to COVID-19 and blames the negligence of the state-run hospital that was treating her.  

    Sanjib Saha had to travel 15 km with his 78-year-old father to get him the jab. He claims he booked an appointment but when he reached the private hospital he was denied the vaccine because more than 100 people were already standing around waiting.

    “I have been trying for weeks now. Finally, when I went to a hospital after booking an appointment, I was asked to return. What is the point of this platform if hospitals don’t even accept it?” Saha rued.

    West Bengal has witnessed a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases from mid-March during the unprecedented eight-phase Assembly elections.

    Due to the spike in cases and lack of slots, citizens – mostly elderly people – have started forming massive queues outside health facilities in a bid to secure a vaccine. 

    “I had to wait from 2 am outside the hospital not once but for three days. I got my first dose earlier this month, and perhaps will have to do the same to get the second dose,” said Ratin Pal, a 64-year-old retired man.

    When Sputnik spoke to two private hospitals, the management said they prioritise those standing in queues over people who have booked a slot on the app.

    “We can't ask people standing from midnight to return home. It’s criminal. They are mostly old people and we don’t want chaos here,” said one of the hospitals.

    Despite its population of 1.3 billion, India has only administered 187 million doses to date. West Bengal has so far vaccinated 9 percent of its population with 12 million doses.

    There are currently three vaccines approved for use – Covishield and Covaxin are manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech respectively. The Indian government has pledged to produce at least two billion doses between August and December this year. Aside from these vaccines, the country recently received 210,000 doses of the Russia's Sputnik V, which will be made available in June.

    The government claimed that it had so far procured 356 million doses of both Covishield and Covaxin, but none have been delivered so far. An affidavit in the Supreme Court revealed that only 20 million doses may be available for the 18-44 age group across India this month. States such as Maharashtra, Telangana, and Karnataka had to temporarily suspend the vaccination process for this age range due to supply shortages. 

    Related:

    COVID Centre Patients Protest Against India's Odisha Government
    High Number of Diabetes Cases Responsible for Raging Black Fungus in India, Doctor Says
    Long Queues Outside Banks Undermine Battle Against COVID-19 in India
    Tags:
    AstraZeneca, India, West Bengal, Sputnik V
    Community standardsDiscussion