Punjab plans to approach global manufacturers for direct purchase of Covid vaccine

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday directed the Health Department to explore possibilities of floating a global tender for the procurement of vaccines from all possible sources to ensure early inoculation in the state. The state government will also reach out directly to all vaccine manufacturers for direct purchase of various Covid vaccines, including Sputnik V, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, he announced.

Punjab has storage space for 35 lakh Sputnik V vaccines, which require storage temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius. The Chief Minister said all efforts would be made for procurement of vaccines to meet the acute shortage in the state, which had received fewer than 44 lakh vaccine doses so far from the Government of India, of which only 1 lakh is currently available for use and which will also be exhausted within a day.

The state government was forced to stop vaccination for Phase I & Phase 2 categories in the last three days because of non-availability, pointed out the Chief Minister, directing all concerned departments to continue pursuing the matter of supply aggressively with the Centre.

As per GoI allocation for Phase III (18-44 age group), the state government has been been able to buy only 3.6 lakh vaccine doses, including 63,000 received yesterday. A total of 2.3 Lakh have already been used, leaving only 1.3 lakh for use as of now, said the Chief Minister.

Pointing out that almost 1 lakh unregistered construction workers and their family members had so far come forward for getting vaccinated in line with the state government’s prioritisation of vaccination for 18-44 category, the Chief Minister asked the Labour Department to ensure the registration of these workers on priority.

During the Covid review meeting, Covid Expert Group head Dr KK Talwar noted that the existing vaccines had been found to be effective against the new variants/mutants so far.

DGP Dinkar Gupta disclosed that the Punjab Police had lost 21 personnel to Covid in the last five months, and of these, 50% were not fully vaccinated.