Updated: May 14, 2021 12:22:36 am
The Punjab government on Thursday announced that it will join the global vaccine platform — COVAX — for procurement of Covid vaccines at the best rates. The decision was taken after a state cabinet meeting held in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.
“The Punjab government has decided to join the COVAX alliance for global sourcing and procurement of Covid vaccines at the best price, becoming the first state in the country to take such an initiative…,” read a government statement.
The Cabinet has also approved the purchase of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for industrial workers. The government statement said that “The industry has expressed willingness to pay” for vaccination of industrial workers.
Till now, the government has ordered 30 lakh Covishield doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII) for beneficiaries in the age group of 18-44, of which 1 lakh doses have been received. While SII charges Rs 300 per dose of Covishield from state governments, Covaxin costs Rs 400 per vial for states.
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, the Cabinet felt. The suggestion for joining COVAX was given to the Cabinet by Dr Gagandeep Kang, who heads the Punjab Expert Group on Vaccination.
Punjab health secretary Hussan Lal said that of the 30 lakh Covishield doses ordered by the state government, the Serum Institute of India had so far confirmed delivery of 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 workforce. Given the shortage of vaccines, he pointed out that certain states were floating global tenders to import the same.
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