Union Health Ministry has said that the Central Government is maintaining close collaboration with States and Union Territories for the launch of the world's largest Covid-19 vaccination drive and all preparations are on track for the vaccine roll-out from the 16th of January. Addressing the media in New Delhi, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that States are expected that all logistics should be ready for vaccination roll-out and exercise continuous oversight and personal involvement on the entire process at the highest level. He said, during vaccination, health care workers will be on the top priority, followed by frontline workers and prioritized age groups. The cost of health care workers and frontline workers will be borne by the central government. The number of healthcare workers is about one crore, frontline workers are two crore,s and 27 crore people are of prioritized groups.
Mr. Bhushan said that two COVID19 vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin have received Emergency Use Authorization and both have established their safety and immunogenicity through a well-prescribed regulatory process. He said, there are four other COVID-19 vaccines that will be manufactured in India and will be available soon. He said the government of India has agreed to procure 110 lakh doses of Covishield from Serum Institute of India at a cost of 200 rupees per dose. He said, 55 lakh doses of Covaxin are being procured from Bharat Biotech out of which 16.5 lakh doses are provided free of cost to the government while the rate of the rest of the 38.5 lakh doses will be 295 rupees per dose. Hence, the cost of the Covaxin vaccine will be 206 rupees per dose.
The Health Secretary also informed that till today 54 lakh 72 thousand doses of vaccines are received at the vaccine stores and 100 percent doses will be received by 14th January in all States and Union Territories.
Mr. Rajesh Bhushan said that there are five key principles of Covid-19 vaccination which include ensuring people's participation, utilizing the experience of elections and universal immunization program, no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, and no compromise of existing healthcare services. He said there should be a special focus on communication activities to create an encouraging environment that vaccines are safe and immunogenic. He said, the gap between the two doses of vaccines will be 28 days and it is only after the 14 days of receiving the second dose, the effectiveness begins and it is also imperative to maintain COVID appropriate behavior.
On COVID- 19 situation, COVID-19 active cases continue to decline steadily in the country and the daily new cases have touched a new low today and it stands at 2 lakh 16 thousand 558. Addressing the media in New Delhi, Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan said that the COVID19 situation is still worrisome across the world as the graph of active cases is climbing in the USA, UK, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. He said, in India, only 12 thousand 584 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. He said, in India, active cases are only 2 percent of the total active COVID cases. Mr. Bhushan said that only 2 States- Kerala and Maharashtra account for 54 percent of the total active cases in the country.
NITI Aayog, Member, DR V K Paul said that both the vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin have been authorized for emergency use and there should be no doubt about their safety. He said, they have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible and also there is no risk of any significance. Dr. Paul also informed that the Indian Medical Association has decided to accept and support these two indigenously developed vaccines. He also appealed to the media to create a positive atmosphere about the vaccination drive.