NEW DELHI: India is set to witness a historic moment on Saturday (January 16, 2021) with the commencement of the most-awaited vaccination drive against the dreaded coronavirus disease, with over three lakh people to be inoculated with doses of either of the two vaccines – Covaxin or Covishield.
The world`s biggest vaccination drive comes almost a year after the first coronavirus case was detected in India, which then claimed over 1.5 lakh lives and infected one crore people. The first case came to the fore on January 30, 2020, in Kerala. The vaccination drive will mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually launch the world`s largest vaccination programme at 10:30 AM and almost three lakh beneficiaries, belonging to the priority groups, will be administered the silver bullet at over 3,006 vaccination sites across the country. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.
Two vaccines — Oxford Covid vaccine Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed Covaxin by the Bharat Biotech — will be administered to priority groups.
So far, the Central government has procured 1.1 crore Covishield and 55 lakh Covaxin vaccines at a cost of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively. In the first phase of the vaccination drive, three crore heath care workers and frontline workers from government and private hospitals across the country will receive the coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine will be given free of cost and the entire cost will be borne by the Central Government. It is targeted to be completed in the next few weeks.
In the second phase, people over 50 years of age and 27 crore people suffering from serious ailments will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine. For this, task forces have been set up in every district and just like elections, booths have been set up at different places where people will be vaccinated.
Sudhir Bhandari, the Principal of Sawai Mansingh Medical College, in Rajasthan’s Jaipur will be given the first vaccine dose while the security guards of a hospital in Madhya Pradesh and others including an assistant will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier in January, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.