Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das wrote to the center on Tuesday proposing a nationwide acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines from global manufacturers rather than an acquisition by individual states. This comes four days after the Odisha government extended the deadline for its global tender to June 4.
On May 14, the state government launched a global tender for the purchase of 3.8 crore doses to inoculate its people and has said there was limited response during the pre-tender stage.
“We need to be prepared for a possible third wave of infection. Most experts warn that vaccination is the main weapon to protect our people from the subsequent waves of the pandemic and that we must increase vaccination as soon as possible, ”Das wrote in his letter to the Union Health Minister Harsh. Vardhan.
Acknowledging that the state is facing a lack of response from vaccine manufacturers, Das said: “It appears that global vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna are concerned about issues related to compensation, among others. Second, they are willing to deal only with central procurement at the federal level, at this stage. Global vaccine manufacturers will require legal authorizations from the central government for supply to the state. ”
“Since this is in the domain of the union government, it could be faster and cheaper if the procurement of global vaccines is done at the country level rather than by individual states,” he said.
Das said Odisha, which was vaccinating 2 lakh, people, a day in early April, has been able to vaccinate only 60,000 to 70,000 people a day due to supply limitations. The state has the capacity to vaccinate 3 lakh people per day, he added.
“After the union government allowed states to purchase the vaccine directly from the vaccine manufacturers allowed for the 18-45 age group, we immediately placed an order for 20 lakh doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India. (IBS) and 10.34 lakh dose of Covaxin with Bharat Biotech. However, so far, they have only delivered 5,78,480 of Covishied and 1,65,490 doses of Covaxin respectively, ”Das wrote.
“This is quite inadequate in light of the huge demand for vaccines across the state. Regarding the supply problem, Odisha launched a global tender for the procurement of vaccines. However, there has been limited response to the tender as observed during the pre-tender stage. SII and Bharat Biotech have not participated in the pre-bid meeting ”, he added.
With the approval of the state cabinet, Odisha has also modified its global tender which includes liberal conditions for manufacturers regarding performance, safety penalties, prepayment, etc.
In addition, he proposed that states can have the flexibility to design and decide on vaccine distribution taking into account local factors such as Internet connectivity. He also set out Odisha’s intention to vaccinate Class XII students and their families as a priority.