35-45 yrs may get priority in next vaccination phase: Rajesh Tope

Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that state experts have predicted a third wave by August-September and the state will begin preparation to ramp up its health infrastructure to be able to treat a future rise in patient load.

A long video-conference was held on Thursday between all districts, various departments of state and senior state officials. A decision to conduct an oxygen audit in all hospitals was taken to check for leakages, with the concept of oxygen nurses to be soon implemented across all hospitals. An oxygen nurse will monitor oxygen levels of 50 patients posted under her and keep regulating the oxygen flow based on the patient’s need to minimise wastage. The state has directed all districts to follow judicious use of oxygen.

On Thursday, Maharashtra recorded 66159 cases and 771 deaths due to Covid-19. Mumbai recorded 4174 new cases, noting a decline since the last five days. Active caseload is 6.7 lakh.

Tope said that while cases are on the decline, districts will continue to work to ramp up oxygen generation plants, oxygen storage plants, oxygen concentrators, and pressure swing adsorption plants. Tope said all mild and moderate patients with oxygen saturation below 94 will be put on oxygen concentrator support.

In tier-II and tier-III cities, where there are no tertiary hospitals or specialised care available, the state plans to install high-definition cameras to monitor ICU readings, patient and his progress. Consultants from Mumbai and Pune will direct treatment based on medical parameters, Tope said.

He said that FICCI will collaborate with the state to provide oxygen plants, instal more oxygen storage tanks, and scale up oxygen concentrators.

On vaccination, the minister said that Serum Institute of India has agreed to provide 3 lakh doses against a purchase order. Tope, however, said the state will not begin mass vaccination on such a small quantity. “We should have at least 25-30 lakh to begin the next phase of vaccination for the 18-44 year age group.”

Tope said the CM is willing to pay for the entire stock of vaccines but manufacturers do not have capacity to deliver immediately. “We have asked manufacturers to give us the schedule for delivery. The empowered committee will take a decision on when to start vaccination accordingly,” he said.

Tope said those aged 35-45 years may be given priority over lower age groups in the next phase of vaccination. “The empowered committee is doing micro planning over all this,” he said.

He added that discussion on procurement of Sputnik is under way. “Pfizer will cost Rs 1500, it will need a huge budget. Johnson and Johnson and Zydus are willing to supply by August. We spoke with the country head of J&J in the VC today about procurement. Discussions are on with them too to procure a vaccine.”

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