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Serum Institute won’t provide pre-ordered vaccine before May 15 as their priority is Centre: Punjab Health Minister

“Dependency on centre for vaccine and oxygen has staggered Punjab’s Covid battle,” said Punjab Health Minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu in an interview with MoneyControl. Com.

May 03, 2021 / 08:58 PM IST

 

As the country remains grappled with second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Punjab on Monday, imposed stricter curbs till May 15, to contain the rapidly surging cases.

Since the past week, Punjab is recording over 7,000 cases daily with the number reaching 7,327 on Sunday making it the highest single-day spike since the beginning of the pandemic.

Punjab Health Minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu in an interview with Moneycontrol.com said that the state has all the required resources apart from oxygen supply, Remedesvir and vaccines.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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“We have the infrastructure, we have the workforce, but we’re facing shortage of oxygen supply, Remdesivir and vaccines which is the Centre’s responsibility,” he said.

Punjab CM Capt. Amrinder Gill has put off the vaccination drive for the age-group of 18-45 years, which was to begin on May 1, as the vaccine supply dwindled during surging cases. Sidhu said that an order of 30 lakh vaccine doses has already been placed to the Serum Institute of India (SII), but they haven’t supplied the doses yet.

“We have placed an order of 30 lakh vaccine doses to the Serum Institute of India (SII), but they will provide us the vaccine after May 15 as their priority is the Centre,” he said. “We have an infrastructure to vaccinate 3 lakh people per day, but the centre is inconsistent in allocating number of vaccine doses,” he added

To address the issue of scarcity of oxygen supply in Punjab, the oxygen from industries is being rerouted to Covid care centres.

“Supply of oxygen in industries has been limited and is being diverted for treatment of COVID-19 patients,” Sidhu said. “We’re also taking help from the military to contain rising covid cases,” he added.

 
K Yatish Rajawat is a public policy expert and the CEO of Center for Innovation in Public Policy

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