Punjab joins COVAX to procure Covid-19 vaccines at affordable prices
The Punjab government joined the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative to procure Covid-19 vaccines globally at the best price, becoming the first state in India to do so, chief minister Amarinder Singh’s office announced on Thursday. The decision to join COVAX alliance was taken during a virtual Cabinet meeting, chaired by the chief minister.
“The Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab government on Thursday decided to join the COVAX facility alliance for global sourcing and procurement of Covid vaccines at the best price, becoming the first state in the country to take such a well thought out strategic initiative towards addressing the problem of vaccine shortage amid the deadly second wave of the pandemic,” the state government said in a press release.
Punjab has been lagging behind in administering vaccines to its population and the state’s health minister met Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday to discuss ramping up of vaccination. The Union health minister asked the health minister of 8 states and union territories to not be “unrealistic” when it comes to demands for the necessary number of vaccines. He also asked these states to focus on delivering second shots that are due before administering the first doses to the next age group.
“Hence it is very important that we first focus more on second dose vaccinations. States should not lose sight of those who are to get the second dose of Covid vaccine: 70% at minimum ought to be allocated to meet the requirement of the second dose, while 30% ought to be reserved for the first dose,” Vardhan told states.
Following unavailability of vaccines, the Punjab government decided to join the COVAX alliance, since it offers global vaccines at the best possible price. The idea of joining COVAX was suggested by Dr Gagandeep Kaur. who heads the Punjab Expert Group on Vaccination.