Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla has assured Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that 1.5 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, will be delivered to the state after May 20.
The Maharashtra state cabinet convened a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the COVID management. Talking to the media following the meeting, state health minister Rajesh Tope said Poonawalla has "promised the Chief Minister to deliver 1.5 crore doses of Covishield to Maharashtra after May 20."
He added that "we will start the vaccination for the 18-44 years age group after we receive the vaccine."
Since the Maharashtra government has suspended the COVID-19 vaccination for the 18-44 years age group for the time being due to the unavailability of vaccine doses, Tope added that "all the doses purchased by the state government for the age group will now be diverted for the 45 category."
When asked about the lockdown extension in the state, he said the health department and other minister suggested extending the lockdown for 15 days at the cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, Aslam Sheikh, Minister in Maharashtra Cabinet, told ANI the Centre should ease norms for buying vaccines. "If the Centre eases its import laws a bit, we will be able to vaccinate the people in 3-4 months. More rights need to be given to States so that we can purchase vaccines from the market and vaccinate people," he said.
Maharashtra has the highest COVID-19 case tally in the country. The state registered 46,781 new infections and 816 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the state health department on Wednesday.
The fresh cases thrusted the total count in Maharashtra to 52,26,710 and the death toll to 78,007. The active number of coronavirus cases in the state stands at 5,46,129.