The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to consider keeping aside some percentage of COVID-19 vaccines for beneficiaries availing spot registration, especially in rural areas where people have no access to online registration for getting inoculated.
The division bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Bhargav D Karia asked Advocate General (AG) Kamal Trivedi if the government can set aside 10 per cent to 20 per cent of COVID-19 vaccines allotted for a particular centre for beneficiaries availing spot registration.
While the Centre has allowed on-site registration and appointment for people in the age group of 18-44 on the CoWin platform, the Gujarat government has maintained that it will conduct the vaccination through the present system, wherein a prior registration and appointment is required to receive jabs.
“Out of 100, can’t you keep 10 or 20 for spot registration? Suppose you have 100 allocated for today, you can register online for 80, remaining 20 can be kept for spot registration,” Justice Karia said while hearing a PIL filed suo motu (on its own) on the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues.
Why can’t the state government provide spot registration for people who have no access whatsoever to the same? he further asked, adding that it may be done for rural areas of the state if not the urban.
The AG informed the court that out of 6.5 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines required for beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group, orders have been placed for 3 crore doses with two domestic manufacturers, who have told the government that they are unable to maintain consistent supply.
The manufacturers won’t commit to supply the entire order, Trivedi said.
The manufacturers are supplying 1 to 2 lakh doses on a daily basis, and 13,68,650 doses of Covishield and 2,49,240 of Covaxin were received in May, he said.
The government has been assured a supply of 8,30,140 Covishield and 2,46,880 Covaxin doses in June, he said.
To this, the court remarked if the state government was following a “five-year plan” for vaccine procurement.
In terms of a global tender for procuring vaccines, Trivedi said none of the state governments has been able to finalise tender for the same, and furthermore, money for 3 crore vials has already been paid to the two domestic companies.
“We are not doubting the bona fides of the government, but there has to be some more action taken, you will have to find out some other sources,” the court said.
On the issue of vaccine wastage, the government told the court that the process is being supervised.
When asked by the court about the time gap between two doses, Assistant Solicitor General Devang Vyas said it was only for Covishield, and that too, based on a scientific study to assess its efficacy in India and abroad.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on June 15.