The Maharashtra government will float a global tender for COVID-19 vaccines and Remdesivir injections, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Saturday.
As the Union government has allowed vaccination of people in the age group of 18 to 45, the state will start inoculation drive for this category from May 1, he said.
Pawar, who also handles the finance portfolio, was speaking to reporters after holding a review meeting on the COVID-19 situation in Pune.
"We have decided to float a global tender for vaccines and Remdesivir (used for the treatment of COVID-19) through a committee headed by chief secretary Sitaram Kunte," he said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has discussed vaccine availability with Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the maker of the Covishield vaccine, Pawar said.
Poonawalla expressed inability to meet the state's full requirement, he claimed.
"He told us he will give us vaccine doses as per his capacity and asked us to procure remaining doses from other companies," said Pawar.
"We will ensure that the state gets vaccines from foreign manufacturers in coordination with the Union government," he said.
On the medical oxygen crisis, Pawar said the state government was making every effort to address the issue.
The state used to get 240-250 metric tons of liquid medical oxygen from Jamnagar, he said, adding, "We have received information that the quota for Maharashtra has been now brought down to 125 metric tons."
"The Centre has taken control of oxygen supply to various states. We have requested it to at least maintain the earlier quota of 250 metric tons," Pawar said.
Non-functional oxygen plants in the state will be restarted to increase the supply, he said.
On Remdesivir shortages, he said Maharashtra used to get 36,000 vials per day earlier, but with its supply coming under central control, the daily supply has come down to 25,000 vials per day.
On demand for free vaccines, he said the chief minister will explain the government's stand on May 1.
"Like the `Give up LPG subsidy campaign', we can also appeal to those who can afford to pay for the vaccine," Pawar said.