Punjab short of Covid vials

Published June 16, 2021
People stand outside the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Minar-i-Pakistan where the authorities have stopped vaccination due to a shortage of the vaccine. — White Star / Murtaza Ali
People stand outside the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Minar-i-Pakistan where the authorities have stopped vaccination due to a shortage of the vaccine. — White Star / Murtaza Ali

LAHORE: The shortage of Covid vaccine has forced the authorities to close two vaccination centres/camps in Lahore while some others in the rest of the province may face closure.

There are reports that only a day’s stock of the Covid vaccine is left in Punjab, an official privy to the information tells Dawn.

He says following the shortage of the vaccine, the health authorities have closed down the centre/camp established at the Lahore Press Club and the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) while the situation in some other centres of the city seems uncertain.

Recently, the Punjab government has increased the Covid vaccination centres to 657 across the province, including 57 in Lahore.

Reports suggest that many people are being denied vaccine, particularly in Lahore, due to its scarcity.

Two centres in Lahore closed; lowest bidder refuses to provide vaccine in two months

The official says in order to avoid criticism, the staffers are administering second dose of the vaccine, while denying first dose to people.

Punjab Health Minister Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid has confirmed that the provincial authorities have stock of vaccine for three days only.

In a statement [on Tuesday], she says the health teams were administering vaccine to 240,000 citizens daily in Punjab against 430,000, a target set by the National Command and Operation Centre.

“We have 13,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine while 25,000 doses of other companies are with the Lahore deputy commissioner,” she says adding that the health department has recently distributed 1.6 million doses among districts of the province.

The official source, however, says the Punjab government has recently intimated to the NCOC that the province is heading towards shortage of the vaccine. It has requested the federal authorities to ensure supply of the vaccine to meet its shortage.

Meanwhile, he says, the Punjab cabinet has returned a summary sent by the health department wherein it (health department) had sought approval to issue order to the company for the procurement of the vaccines.

In the summary, the health department had apprised the cabinet that two bidders had quoted lowest price of Rs3,590 for CanSino vaccine (per dose) and Rs6,000 for Sinovac.

The CanSino is a single dose vaccine and Sinovac double dose, the official says adding that the Punjab cabinet committee returned the summary to deal the issue at the level of health department.

The reason is that one of the lowest bidders had refused to provide vaccine within two months of the placement of order, a deadline the Punjab government had fixed for the procurement and supply of the vaccine in the tender.

The bidder was of the view that it would not be possible to ensure supply of vaccine within two months due to some ‘unavoidable’ issues and suggested to make alternative arrangements.

This delay also caused shortage of the Covid vaccine in Punjab. The province has been tasked with administering vaccine to 12 million people by the end of June, the official says.

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 16th, 2021

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