The Centre has halted the delivery of syringes used in Covid-19 vaccine and doses for the Universal Immunization Program for two months, sending over 15 suppliers into a frenzy. The instruction is the consequence of surplus stocks, a storage space shortage, and a declining need for syringes and needles as demand for the Covid-19 immunization in the country ebbs. The Health Ministry made orders for syringes between July and October of last year, with the goal of reaching two billion Covid-19 immunization doses by December 2021, which was later extended to March of this year.
As the ministry was struggling to procure enough syringes, as per the required specifications, it had also put restrictions on the export of syringes—much to the discomfort of suppliers– which was lifted only beginning this month.
Now the abrupt order dated February 14—issued by the Central Medical Service Society under the ministry which postpones procurement of over 24 crore syringes—has caught the manufacturers off guard who are perplexed at being asked to suspend production and supplies by two months.
According to industry insiders, the fact that 1750 million Covid-19 doses have already been delivered in India has resulted in a scenario reversal—from crisis to sufficient supply. So, only two weeks after the government’s export restrictions were eased, producers are being urged to stop supplying the government.
Suppliers are also unsure whether this would have a cascading impact, and whether orders placed for April to July delivery will also be postponed by two months, or whether they will need to be delivered alongside the rescheduled deliveries.
“The syringe makers had been seeking lifting of the export restriction since December which was not done despite assurances by the ministry. Now suddenly, just two weeks after allowing the exports to resume the government wishes us to stop manufacturing or hold stocks for two months. The high-volume high-speed production lines can’t switch overnight from domestic market labelling to export labelling and international buyers preferred specifications. There should be better supply chain management and the Centre needs to be a fair buyer, said Rajiv Nath, president, All India Syringes & Needles Manufacturers Association and Managing Director, Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices”.
Click here to read: Postponement of the supply schedule of 0.5ml to 3 ml syringes