Punjab government on Thursday said that it had decided to join the COVAX facility alliance for global sourcing and procurement of Covid vaccines amid the deadly second wave of the pandemic. The state claimed that it is the first in the country to do so.
The decision was taken during a virtual cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The cabinet also approved the purchase of Covaxin for industrial workers, for whose vaccination the industry has expressed willingness to pay. The state government has so far only ordered the Covishield vaccine for the 18-44 age group. With today’s decision, the decks have been cleared to place orders for Covaxin too.
Reviewing the vaccination status and availability in the state, the cabinet said it was necessary to source vaccine globally. Since the COVAX facility offers the best prices, the state should make an attempt to join the same for procuring vaccines from the international markets, it decided. The suggestion for joining the COVAX was given to the cabinet by Dr Gagandeep Kang, who heads the Punjab Expert Group on Vaccination.
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.
In a brief presentation, Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the cabinet that of the 30 lakh Covishield doses ordered by the state government, the Serum Institute of India had so far confirmed 4.29 lakh, of which 1 lakh doses had been received. He further disclosed that some central government institutions and industrial establishments were requesting for early vaccination of their work force. Given the shortage of vaccines, he pointed out that certain states were floating global tenders to import the same.