Kashmir Faces Shortage Of Covid Vaccine

KO File Photo By Abid Bhat

Srinagar: A day after leading hospitals of Kashmir said they were facing shortage of Remdesivir, several health centres in Kashmir division mainly in Srinagar have run dry of Covid-19 vaccines.

A top health official who wished not to be named said that several health centres in Srinagar district are facing shortage of Covid-19 vaccines.

He said that several centres are without vaccines from the last two to three days and the issue has already been brought into the notice of the concerned authorities.

People from different parts of Kashmir valley, mainly capital city Srinagar said that they have been risking their lives to visit health centres for vaccination but had to return as vaccines aren’t available.

They said that they have been asked to come after five days as no vaccines shall be available till then. “Government urges every day to come for vaccination but when we visit the centres, no vaccines are available there,” they said.

They requested higher authorities to make vaccines available at the earliest so that people won’t face any inconvenience.

State Immunisation Officer acknowledged that there is a shortage of Covid vaccines at some centres of Kashmir division.

“In last two consignments we received two lakh vaccines, one lakh each for a division. However, in the past 10 days more people in Kashmir have turned for vaccination than Jammu so there is a shortage of vaccines here,” he said.

“We have taken up the issue with the Serum Institute of India. The batch is first being tested at Kasauli and in coming two days the batch will reach here after which it will be accordingly distributed and people can get vaccinated,” he said.

Govt Urged to Ensure Availability of Tocilizumab

Meanwhile Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday urged the government to make the life-saving drug Tocilizumab available for Covid-19 patients.

“Tocilizumab drug prevents Covid-19 patients from dying. It saves lives,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

Quoting a study from the United Kingdom, he said Tocilizumab reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19 disease.

“The study also showed that the drug shortens the hospital stay and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator,” he added.

Dr Hassan said we have been able to save the lives of many Covid-19 patients in Kashmir hospitals with early treatment of the drug.

“But, now the drug has run out of stock in valley hospitals putting lives of patients at risk,” he said.

Urging the government to make the life-saving drug available for Covid-19 patients, Dr Hassan said we must ensure that every patient who needs the drug should be able to access it.

“Originally developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the drug combats the disease by quelling cytokine storm which is the hyperimmune response of the infected person to the virus,” he said.

“Mortality in Covid-19 patients has been linked to the presence of the cytokine storm induced by the virus,” Dr Nisar said adding that “excessive production of cytokines leads to respiratory failure and widespread tissue damage resulting in multiorgan failure and death.”

“Tocilizumab suppresses the hyperimmune response by blocking receptor for a key cytokine known as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and improves survival rates and reduces mortality among Covid patients,” he said.

The DAK President said it is vitally important to know that there is no single magic bullet to treat the novel coronavirus and several drugs in combination are needed to tackle the virus.

“With the approval of several therapies, combination of them given at the right time gives a good result,” he said.

“Apart from oxygen, moderate to severe patients are given steroids, remdesivir, convalescent plasma and Tocilizumab in various combinations,” he added.

“Initially it was believed that deaths were happening because of poor oxygenation. Now we know that intravascular clotting can also lead to lung dysfunction and death. So heparin is given in Covid patients to prevent clotting,” said Dr Nisar.

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