Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Thursday announced its decision to join the COVAX facility alliance for global sourcing and procurement of Covid-19 vaccines at the best price.
Punjab is first state in the country to take such a strategic initiative for addressing the problem of vaccine shortage amid escalating Covid-19 crisis.
The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, which also approved the purchase of Covaxin for industrial workers for whose vaccination the industry has expressed willingness to pay.
The state has so far ordered only Covishield vaccine for the 18-44 age group, but with this decision the decks have been cleared to place orders for Covaxin too.
The state made the attempt to join Covax facility for procuring vaccines from the international markets since they offer the best prices in the market,as suggested by Gagandeep Kang, head of the state expert group on vaccination.
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.
In a brief presentation, Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the cabinet that of the 30 lakh Covishield doses ordered by the state, the Serum Institute of India had so far confirmed 4.29 lakh, of which 100,000 doses had been received.
The cabinet has also gaven post-facto approval for the procurement of hospital material and consumables costing Rs 152.56 crore for effective management of the pandemic.
It also approved recruitment of 250 doctors in the Health Department, against existing vacant regular posts through the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences in Faridkot, after taking the recruitment process out of the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission.