Updated: May 6, 2021 6:10:48 am
While the Punjab government has failed to start Phase 3 of the Covid vaccination drive for 18-44 age group at its government centres even after five days of its launch on May 1, the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) on Wednesday showed that neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan have inoculated 1.23 lakh and 1.79 lakh beneficiaries, respectively, in this age group. Private hospitals in Punjab, meanwhile, have vaccinated a mere 1,530 persons in this age group.
However, the drive has failed to start in government hospitals and health centres of Punjab where it will be completely free of cost, as announced by CM Amarinder Singh. In private
hospitals, beneficiaries are paying Rs 1,250 per dose for Covaxin and Rs 900 for Covishield.
A state government statement on Wednesday said though a payment of Rs 10.37 crore has been made to Serum Institute of India (SII) for 30 lakh doses, no schedule for the supply has been received from them.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr G B Singh, Director, Health, said that first supply of nearly 3 lakh doses of Covishield, of the total order of 30 lakh doses, is expected to be delivered in the next 7-10 days.
“We cannot comment on why our doses haven’t been delivered till now but there wasn’t any delay from our side in placing the order. It was placed as soon as the Centre informed us about the new policy.”
He said that Punjab was yet to contact Bharat Biotech for placing an order for Covaxin.
Asked if there was any delay in placing the order, Husan Lal, Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab, said, “Initially, when we placed an order for 30 lakh doses of Covishield with SII, they asked us to send our requirement for coming 3-4 months and we sent that. Then also they said they would need at least four weeks to give us the dates for the first consignment. It was only after MoH&FW intervened that SII confirmed our order and assured us supply for 3.29 lakh doses in the first batch. We transferred the payment to them today and doses will arrive soon.”
With 1.25 crore people estimated between 18-44 years in Punjab, the state would require at least 2.50 crore doses to vaccinate all of them, said Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, Nodal Officer, Covid-19, Punjab.
In the neighbouring Haryana, the first batch of Covishield ordered by the government has been received and Covaxin delivery is still awaited.
The drive was kicked off from May 2 after the arrival of 3 lakh doses of Covishield.
Rajeev Arora, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Haryana, said they had placed an order for 40 lakh doses of Covishield and 26 lakh doses of Covaxin.
“We started vaccination for 18-44 age group on May 2 after receiving the first batch of 3 lakh doses of Covishield from SII. Our first batch of Covaxin is also expected to arrive soon,” he said.
There were 1.18 crore persons aged 18-44 in Haryana as per initial estimates and at least 2.36 crore doses will be required to vaccinate all.
Similarly, in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the drive was started on May 1 itself in selected districts after the first batch of 3 lakh doses of Covishield was received from SII, against the order of 3.75 crore doses by the state government. The state expects an additional supply of 5.44 lakh doses in May.
In the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh too, the drive for 18-44 age group could not be started as state has not received any supply.
While the Serum Institute of India (SII), the manufacturer of Covishield, is charging Rs 300 per dose from state governments and Rs 600 per dose from private hospitals/chains, Bharat Biotech (Covaxin manufacturer) is charging Rs 400 per dose from state governments and Rs 1,200 per dose from private hospitals/companies.
As per the Liberalised and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy formulated by the Centre that came into effect from May 1, while the Union ministry will continue to provide free vaccine doses for 45+ beneficiaries and healthcare/frontline workers (like earlier) and they will continue to be administered for free at all government facilities, the state governments and private hospitals have to pay and buy vaccines directly from manufacturing companies for 18-44 age group beneficiaries in phase 3.
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