Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is fast running short of COVID-19 vaccine even as many throng the designated healthcare centres to get the jab. Vaccine shortage has been reported when the second wave of the pandemic is blowing and when most people who had received the first dose are about to receive the second and final shot.
Though the State had sought 50 lakh doses of the vaccine from the Central government, only 2 lakh reached the state on Friday. The vaccine storage facilities have 4 lakh doses apart from the new stock that arrived.
Of the 2 lakh doses that arrived on Friday, Thiruvananthapuram district received 30,000; while Kollam, Alappuzha, and Pathanamthitta districts received 10,000 each. Only 24 of the 188 camps in Thiruvananthapuram district functioned on Friday due to the vaccine shortage.
Of the 3.65 crore people in the state only 13.39 per cent have been vaccinated so far. About 48.97 lakh people received the first dose, while 5.93 lakh got the second dose.
Kerala has been witnessing an alarming surge in the COVID-19 cases with the state registering 10,031 fresh cases on Friday.
Oxygen price to be increased
Amid this surge in the COVID-19 cases, the price of the medical oxygen is set to be increased in the state. One cubic metre of oxygen that was available for Rs 11.50, would cost Rs 17.
The owners of Kanjikode plant in Palakkad, the lone manufacturer of liquid oxygen in the state, have orally communicated about the price hike to the distributors.
Water and electricity are the raw materials needed for manufacturing oxygen. The water for the Kanjikode plant is provided by the KINFRA from the Malampuzha dam, and the power by the KSEB. The distributors pointed out that the move to increase the oxygen price is not justifiable as there has been no hike in the water and power charges. They also alleged that this was a ploy to reap profits in anticipation of increased usage.
Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives Dr R Venugopal of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) had called for an online meet of the oxygen distributors and representatives of the Kanjikode plant the other day. Those in charge of the plant claimed that the manufacturers in Mumbai determined the oxygen price.
The PESO monitors the supply of oxygen in Kerala.
As the number of COVID-19 cases has increased in the neighbouring States too, the supply of oxygen from the private plants in those states to Kerala has nearly stalled. Thus, the Kanjikode plant handles most of the oxygen distribution in the state.