Central Govt. to bear expenses for the first round of vaccination, jabs for 30 crores in first few months: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Monday that the Central Government will bear the expenses of vaccinating nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first round and suggested that public representatives, a reference to politicians, should not be part of this initial exercise. Prime Minister was reviewing with Chief Ministers on the vaccine role out process in India from January 16. Modi underscored the enormity of what he described as the world’s biggest vaccination exercise, which begins from January 16, saying over 30 crore citizens will get the jabs in the next few months in India against only 2.5 crore people who have received them in over 50 countries in around a month so far.
The two already approved made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines are more cost-effective than any other in the world and have been developed as per the country’s needs, he said in his remarks in the meeting called to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination roll-out. Besides the two vaccines — Covishield developed by Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, four others are in the pipeline, Modi said, asserting that India’s fight against the pandemic will enter a decisive stage with the vaccination roll-out. More vaccines may be available when the exercise moves into the second round, he added.
At least seven other vaccines are being developed in India, while some others can be imported from abroad, including the one developed by global pharma giant Pfizer which has already applied for import and sale in India of its vaccine for emergency use authorisation.
Modi also sought to dispel concerns expressed by some opposition leaders and experts over the approval given to Covaxin without the availability of efficacy data, asserting that scientists have taken all precautions to provide citizens with effective vaccines. He said he has been maintaining from the beginning that the scientific community will have the final word on the issue. India’s drug regulator has given nod to Covishield and Covaxin for the emergency use authorisation.
Noting that the first round of vaccination is meant for healthcare and frontline workers, he said, “This is my personal suggestion and no one should take it otherwise. We public representatives are not part of it.” In some countries, including the US and Israel, leading public figures have taken the jabs while top functionaries in a few others have chosen to follow the standard protocol and wait for their turn.
After healthcare and frontline workers totalling about three crores, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crores, in the next phase.
At least seven other vaccines are being developed in India, while some others can be imported from abroad, including the one developed by global pharma giant Pfizer which has already applied for import and sale in India of its vaccine for emergency use authorisation. India’s total active caseload has fallen to 2.25 lakh, which accounts for just 2.13 per cent of the total number of Coronavirus cases in the country at over 1.04 crore, according to the latest Health Ministry data. More than 1.5 lakh have died so far.
However, the spread of the virus has lessened in a big way in the country as the daily number of new cases has dropped to about 16,000 from a peak of almost 98,000 in September last year. However, the overall caseload for India is the second-highest in the world after the US, which has reported more than 2 crore cases so far — almost double of India’s cumulative tally.
In terms of deaths also, the US has recorded the most at nearly 3.7 lakh, followed by over 2 lakh in Brazil and about 1.5 lakh in India. However, India tops the global charts for recovery with more than 1 crore having recuperated after contracting the deadly virus.
[with PTI inputs]