In a massive boost to India’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan announced on Saturday that free COVID-19 vaccines will be provided to the most prioritised beneficiaries in the first phase of the anti-virus inoculation drive in the country.
“In the first phase of the vaccination drive, free COVID-19 vaccines shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan in a tweet. He added that the details on how further 27 crore priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are yet to be finalised.
In 1st phase of #COVID19Vaccination free #vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare & 2 crore frontline workers— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) January 2, 2021
Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised pic.twitter.com/K7NrzGrgk3
Earlier during his interaction with the media while reviewing the dry run of vaccines in Delhi, the Health Minister had confirmed that the shots will not just be free in the national capital, but all over India.
The announcement comes just a day after India's drug regulator's special expert committee (SEC) recommended the Oxford-AstraZeneca-Serum Institute 'Covishield' vaccine to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use.
After receiving a final ascent from the DCGI, this would pave the way for the vaccine's rollout in India, which is the second-worst affected nation in the world. More than 50 million doses of the Covishield vaccine have already been stockpiled by its India manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII). India has also allowed the import and export of Covid-19 vaccines without any value limitation.
On Saturday, Dr Harsh Vardhan reviewed the preparedness for the mega vaccination dry run that has got underway in every state and Union Territory. Currently, a dry run of the COVID-19 vaccination delivery system is being conducted in 116 districts across 259 sites in India. The aim of the dry run is to test linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges.
This is the second dry run being conducted in the country, the first major run-through was held on December 28 and 29 where the Centre conducted vaccination drive in four states, namely - Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat, which had gone off smoothly.
India has recovered a total of 1,03,05,788 COVID-19 cases and 1,49,218 deaths till date. According to the health ministry, the number of people who have recuperated from the disease has surged to 99,06,387, pushing the national recovery rate to 96.12%, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45% Currently, there are 2,50,183 active coronavirus cases in the country, which accounts for 2.43% of the total caseload.