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Punjab to Order 30 Lakh Covishield Doses for 18-45 Age Group Vaccination, Sends SOS for O2 to Centre

File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The chief minister further said the government will consider approaching Astrazeneca (India) directly to allow the Punjab government to avail the lower price of Rs 162 per dose available to the global community.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday directed the health department to order 30 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, from the Serum Institute of India for vaccination of the 18-45 age group. He also gave directions to use the Chief Minister Relief Fund for meeting the vaccine requirements of the poor.

Singh asked the department to immediately place an order for the 30 lakh doses with the Serum Institute of India so that the supplies can start coming in at the earliest, even though as per information provided by the central government for delivery of vaccines for the 18-45 age group is not expected before May 15, according to a government statement here. To ensure free vaccination of the poor in government hospitals, he said in addition to the CM COVID relief fund, CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds should also be tapped into.

The Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) should be asked to support the vaccination of industrial workers covered in the scheme, and the Board for Welfare of Construction Workers for construction labourers, Singh added. Reviewing the vaccination strategy, the chief minister requested the expert group led by virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang to submit the strategy for prioritisation of the 18-45 years group (vulnerable groups in high risk areas - high transmission, high mortality, including construction workers and industrial workers, in its first report by April 29).

He also said that in pursuing the 18-45 age group vaccination strategy, the state government will not compromise on vaccination of the 45-plus age group. The chief minister further said the government will consider approaching Astrazeneca (India) directly to allow the Punjab government to avail the lower price of Rs 162 per dose available to the global community.

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The state has so far received 29,36,770 doses of Covishield and 3.34 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Out of the available stock of vaccine till April 22, 25.48 lakh doses of Covishield and 2.64 lakh doses of indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin had been utilised, leaving the state with only 2.81 lakh doses of Covishield and 27,400 doses of Covaxin in its stock. The health department had on April 22 written to the Union health ministry seeking additional supply of 10 lakh doses of Covishield, to be made available on priority to enable the state to meet its immediate requirement.

OXYGEN CRISIS

With oxygen supplies in the state depleting fast, the Chief Minister sent another SOS letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for the second time in two days, for urgent increase in allocation of quota.

He also directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to pursue with the central government for urgent supplies, given the serious situation, with patient load increasing due to influx from Delhi and other states, and pushing up demand for medical oxygen.

Given the criticality of the situation, the Chief Minister has sought four-hourly reports from Principal Secretary Industries on the state’s hospital-wise demand-supply situation of oxygen.

The Chief Minister had on Saturday written to the Union Health Minister requesting for an increase Punjab’s Liquid Oxygen quota to 250 MT daily due to continuous surge of Covid cases, seeking his urgent personal intervention in this regard.

Writing in continuation of his earlier letter, the Chief Minister, on Sunday, said “the situation has become very grim over last few days as our supply of LMO has not been able to meet the increased demand."

Pointing out that six persons died in Amritsar yesterday, likely due to non-supply of oxygen, he observed that Punjab does not have any major LMO production capacity and is largely dependent on the supply from outside the State, thus necessitating the Minister’s urgent intervention.

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