The ambitious coronavirus vaccination campaign is expected to reach 300 million people by July
India will launch one of the most ambitious coronavirus vaccinations in the world next Saturday, expected to reach 300 million people by July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced.
The vaccine is said to be free for the country's 1.3 billion residents, and Modi said its Jan. 16 launch would be "a milestone" in fighting the pandemic.
India is the second most severely affected country in the world after the US, with more than 10 million cases, although the death rate is one of the lowest in the world.
The first phase targets approximately 30 million health and other frontline workers, including security guards, and 270 million people over 50 or at greatest risk of COVID-19.
The government has announced that it will vaccinate the first 300 million people by the end of July and has already carried out mass trials with vaccination centers across the country.
Around 150,000 employees in 700 districts have been trained and around 290,000 temperature-controlled supply points, 240 walk-in refrigerators, 70 walk-in freezers and 45,000 refrigerators with ice conduction are ready for use.
The government has approved two vaccines – Covishield from AstraZeneca / Oxford University and one from Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech.
The world's largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India (SII), claims it has made around 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca product and plans to increase production to 100 million doses per month by March.
However, the Indian government has yet to finalize a sales contract with serum as there are reports of serum disputes over the price.
The number of new coronavirus cases reported daily has dropped dramatically in the past few weeks.
However, the vaccination campaign was announced after the Ministry of Health announced that the number of people who tested positive for a virulent new strain of the coronavirus found in the UK had risen to 90.
India did not resume flights from the UK until Friday after a 16-day lock due to the new load.
The Delhi regional government has ordered all UK passengers to be isolated for 14 days, even if they test negative for COVID-19.
Authorities are still trying to track down thousands of passengers who arrived on flights from the UK before the suspension was ordered.
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India starts a mammoth vaccination campaign on January 16 (2021, January 9)
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