US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has refused to send Covid vaccines to Punjab directly, making it clear that they only deal with the central government. Its refusal came a day after another drug maker, Moderna, declined the state's request. Pfizer, however, appreciated the "extraordinary efforts" of the Government of Punjab in response to the pandemic.
The two pharma giants have also refused to send the shots to Delhi, citing the same reason.
Pfizer has said that it is "working with Federal Governments across the world to supply its Covid-19 vaccine for use in National Immunization programs," according to Vikas Garg, Punjab's Nodal Officer for vaccination.
"Our supply agreements at this time are with national governments and supra-national organisations with allocation of doses and implementation within the country being a decision that governments take based on relevant health authority guidance. This approach Pfizer has followed across the world," the communication from Pfizer read.
Mr Garg, a senior IAS officer, also said that all Covid vaccine makers were approached for direct purchase, including the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, the Sputnik V manufacturer), Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. This was done under Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's directions to explore the possibilities of floating a global tender for the procurement of vaccines to ensure early inoculation in the state.
"All efforts would be made for procurement of vaccines to meet the acute shortage in the state," Mr Garg said, adding that Punjab now hopes for a positive reply from RDIF and Johnson & Johnson.
Punjab has stopped vaccination for Phase I and Phase 2 categories over the past three days due to an acute shortage. It has received around 45.3 lakh doses so far from the Centre.
The state reported over 5,000 Covid cases yesterday, taking its total infections to 5.39 lakh.