The first batch of Covishield vaccine, which the Kerala government directly bought from Serum Institute of India, arrived at the Cochin International Airport from Pune on May 10. The state received 3.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. An Indigo flight carrying the Covishield vaccine landed at Cochin International Airport at 11.50 am, a CIAL spokesman said.
The state government has placed an order for over one crore doses of vaccine to accelerate the vaccination drive in the state. Chief Minister-designate Pinarayi Vijayan has said the COVID-19 vaccination drive for those in the age group of 18-45 would be prioritised in Kerala, with people having comorbidities given preference. "It has been informed that the state will get a small portion of doses this month. So, the vaccination drive for those in 18-45 will be prioritised," Vijayan said.
Pinarayi Vijayan has said the state government would initiate steps to ensure the availability of enough vaccines and take the matter up with the Union government. The Kerala High Court has also sought information from the Union government on the time frame within which the state government would get its share of vaccines.
Under the latest vaccine policy announced by the Union government, it would purchase 50% of the vaccine stock from the manufacturers and distribute it among the states. The states can purchase more vaccines directly from the manufacturers to meet the shortage.
Kerala had planned to vaccinate all individuals above 45 years by May 30. However, the state government is looking at a delay as 50 lakh doses are reportedly required to entirely cover citizens above 45 years.
In the initial days of the vaccination drive, Kerala used to maintain a buffer stock of nearly eight lakhs of vaccinations. However, the state soon ran into a shortage, even as many citizens above 45 years lined up at vaccination centres for their second dose. The state had sought 50 lakh doses of vaccine from the Union government. On May 2, the state had received four lakh doses of Covishield and about 75,000 doses of Covaxin.
Earlier, when the state tried to get vaccines directly from the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, they did not promise to provide them, as they had many prior bookings
(With inputs from PTI)