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Punjab unlikely to get Covax doses: officials

Last Thursday, the Punjab government had said that since there is a shortage of vaccines in the country, the state has decided to join the COVAX facility to procure vaccines on its own.

Written by Amitabh Sinha
Pune | Updated: May 19, 2021 6:01:43 am
Punjab covid, Punjab covid vaccine, Punjab vaccine, Covaxin, COVAX, Covid vaccine, India covid vaccine, punjab news, Indian express newsOne of the key COVAX partners has indicated that only countries — and not states — can access the vaccines through this channel.

Punjab’s hopes of getting Covid-19 vaccines from the international COVAX facility are unlikely to get fulfilled. One of the key COVAX partners has indicated that only countries — and not states — can access the vaccines through this channel.

A spokesperson for GAVI, one of the three organisations that have set up COVAX initiative, told The Indian Express that since India is already a participating member of the facility, Punjab could not separately apply to access Covid-19 vaccines.

“COVAX enters into agreements with participating economies who procure vaccines through COVAX. The vaccines are distributed within the relevant COVAX participant in accordance with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. India is currently a facility participant…. It has been receiving allocated doses nationally.” the spokesperson said.

Last Thursday, the Punjab government had said that since there is a shortage of vaccines in the country, the state has decided to join the COVAX facility to procure vaccines on its own. The state government had said it was acting on the advice of noted public health professional and medical scientist Gagandeep Kang.

Kang confirmed that she indeed had advised the state government to approach COVAX to access vaccines. She acknowledged that no regional or sub-national government had so far been directly allocated vaccines through the COVAX facility, but said the state government could try.

COVAX is an international initiative to ensure that Covid19 vaccines are made available to everyone at an affordable price. It was set up last year by GAVI, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI). It does collective buying of vaccines from manufacturers on behalf of its member countries, and allocates them in an equitable manner.

COVAX is a useful channel to everyone other than those handful of countries —the US, the UK and some other European countries — that have cornered a vast majority of the vaccines being produced today through bulk advance payments. However, even COVAX is finding it difficult to get adequate number of vaccines.

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