Three crore COVID-19 warriors to get vaccine for free: Harsh Vardhan
Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh VardhanFile photo

Three crore COVID-19 warriors to get vaccine for free: Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi, January 2, 2020

As India prepares to launch one of the largest ever immunisation drives in the world to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan said that, in the first phase, the vaccine would be provided free to three crore healthcare and frontline workers.

The Government is also finalising details of how to vaccinate the remaining 27 crore people in the priority categories, including senior citizens before covering the rest of India's 1.3 billion population.

"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 said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised," he added.

The Minister's statement came a day after the Subject Expert Committee recommended to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) that Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine, Covishield, be given Emergency Use Authorisation.

If the DGCI accepts the recommendation, the vaccine would become the first to become available to the people in India.

India has so far reported more than 10,305,788 confirmed cases of COVID-19, second only to the United States, which has recorded more than 20.128 million cases till now.

India has registered a total of 149,218 deaths due to COVID-19 so far, third behind the United States (347,787) and Brazil (195,411).

The United Kingdom and Argentina are among the countries which have approved Covishield.

In India, the vaccine is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India under an arrangement with Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The SEC had met here yesterday to consider Oxford-AstraZeneca's application for emergency use authorisation along with that of Bharat Biotech, which has collaborated with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its indigenous vaccine, Covaxin.

America's Pfizer was the first one to apply for the accelerated approval on December 4, followed by Serum and Bharat Biotech on December 6 and 7, respectively. Pfizer has, however, sought more time to present the data.

At yesterday's meeting, the SEC held that the data provided by Bharat Biotech for Covaxin was not sufficient for grant of emergency use approval and has asked for more information, top sources said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan's statement also came on a day when a dry run of the vaccination drive is being held in all States and Union Territories to firm up the logistics for the massive immunisation campaign.


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