With several Indian states reporting a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in recent weeks, the Punjab government on on Thursday decided to join the global COVAX alliance for sourcing the immunisation shots at the best price. The decision to join COVAX alliance was taken during a virtual Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Officials contend that the COVAX facility's aim to offers the best prices makes it a lucrative option.
The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) is a worldwide initiative that is working to supply vaccines to various countries in the world. The grouping is led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. But while the group remains dedicated to ensuring people in all corners of the world get access to COVID-19 vaccines, this is an effort at the national level.
As the GAVI website explains, it is a way for both self-financing countries and funded countries will gain access to a portfolio of vaccines with varying degrees of aid being delivered depending on the nation. And while it is mentioned repeatedly that any nation can join the grouping, this by definition excludes states within a country.
While the Central government has not halted state level efforts to procure vaccines via global tenders, it is unclear whether Punjab is eligible to join the alliance. But even in the somewhat unlikely event that the state manages to join the alliance, this may not solve the vaccine crisis. According to reports, Recent reports indicate that COVAX is lagging behind on their promised deliveries and faces a supply shortage.
Part of this crunch incidentally stems from the fact that India had curtailed exports as the second wave began. According to reports, India has already received around 10 million vaccine doses via the alliance - the highest of any country.
(With inputs from agencies)