State suspends 18+ jab drive as stocks dry up
With no dose left to administer to people under the 18-45 year category, Punjab has suspended the vaccination drive for the next few days.
Punjab has received 4,29,000 doses of Covishield vaccine out of 30 lakh booked with the Serum Institute of India (SII) this month, which have already been administered.
“All these doses have been administered and rather, Punjab vaccinated 4,35,000 persons in the 18-45 category against the 4,29,000 doses as one vial of Covishield actually has 11 doses and whereas the company mandates it to have 10 doses,” said state nodal officer for vaccination Vikas Garg.
He said the state has booked 1,16,000 doses of Covaxine for the 18-45 category but the schedule for the arrival of these does is not known yet.
Senior officials said 3.8 lakh doses of Covishield are expected to arrive in the first week of June.
A few days ago, US-based manufacturers Moderna Pfizer refused to deliver vaccines directly to Punjab citing policy decisions. The Punjab government had approached all manufacturers for direct purchase of Covid vaccines, including Sputnik-V, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to explore possibilities of floating a global tender for the procurement of jabs for early inoculation in the state.
The manufactures said they can deal with the Government of India and not the state governments or private companies for delivering vaccines.
The Punjab government on May 13 decided to join the COVAX facility alliance for global sourcing and procurement of Covid vaccines at the best price, but it also informed the government that it doesn’t deal directly with the state. But a spokesperson for GAVI, one of the three organisations that have set up COVAX initiative, said that since India is already a participating member of the facility, Punjab could not separately apply to access Covid-19 vaccines.
These efforts to procure vaccines from manufacturers abroad were driven by an acute shortage of vaccine for beneficiaries in the age group of 18-45 years due to which the state government has had to first delay its start and then suspend the drive at several vaccination centres across the state.