India starts Covid-19 vaccination drive throughout the country
India launched its massive vaccination drive on Jan 16, as the country tries to bring the pandemic under control with two locally-produced vaccines.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed healthcare workers through video conferencing, will not immediately take the vaccine himself as India is initially prioritising nurses, doctors and others on the front line.
“We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said in his address. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines”.
India gave the nod for emergency use of two vaccines: one developed by Oxford University and UK-based drug-maker AstraZeneca, and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech on January 4. Cargo planes flew 16.5 million shots to different Indian cities last week.
With the highest number of coronavirus infections after the United States, India plans to vaccinate around 30 crore people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year. Frontline workers will be followed by about 27 crore people older than 50 or deemed high-risk because of pre-existing medical conditions.
On the first day of the immunisation campaign, the government said it aimed to vaccinate over 3 lakh people. By the end of the day 1.91 lakh had been inoculated, it said.