The Punjab government on Sunday said that pharmaceutical company Moderna has refused to supply its coronavirus vaccines directly to the state government, ANI reported.

Punjab Nodal Officer for vaccination Vikas Garg said that Moderna has informed Punjab government that the company, according to its policy, would only deal with the central government. Apart from state governments, Moderna has refused to do business with private players as well, he said.

Garg added that Punjab was exploring possibilities to procure vaccines through global tender from various manufacturers, including Sputnik V maker Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, NDTV reported. Only Moderna has responded to the Punjab government’s proposal so far, but has denied to enter a deal.

He also said that Punjab was forced to stop vaccination for priority groups in the last three days due to non-availability of doses. The state has been been able to buy only 4.2 lakh vaccine doses, including 66,000 received on Saturday for those in the age group of 18-45, NDTV quoted Garg as saying.

Earlier this month, the Punjab government had also decided to join the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative. However, it is not clear yet if state governments are allowed to enter the joint initiative by various global health bodies to ensure vaccine equity among nations.

Several states are seeking to procure vaccines through global tenders or by approaching manufacturers directly amid shortages of doses across the country.

Currently, 19.19 crore doses of the vaccine have been administered in India, while 4.17 crore beneficiaries have received both the shots, according to government data. Thus, only 2.97% of India’s 140 crore population are fully vaccinated as of now. Earlier this month, NITI Aayog member VK Paul had said that India will have 216 crore doses of vaccines by the end of this year. However, the calculation furnished by the government included eight vaccines, out of which five have not yet been authorised in India, or anywhere else.