As India prepares for the world’s largest coronavirus vaccination programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting today with chief ministers on the rollout, which begins across the country on Saturday. This will be PM Modi’s first meeting with the Chief Ministers after two vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Pune based-Serum Institute of India’s Covishield – were cleared for emergency use by the drug regulator DCGI last week.
On Saturday, hours after he held a high-level meeting with senior officials to review the Covid situation in the country, the Prime Minister tweeted: “On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis.”
The government has held three coronavirus vaccine dry runs, including two countrywide dry runs, to test the delivery system. CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) app will be used by the centre to manage the massive vaccination drive.
CoWIN will track the individual vaccine beneficiaries, more than 79 lakh of whom have been registered on the platform. Priority will be given to 1 crore healthcare workers to be vaccinated first followed by 2 crore frontline workers, like policemen and ITBP personnel.
Twenty-seven crore people, above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities, will be next on the priority list.
On Sunday, the centre discussed in detail with the state officials about the logistics and nuances that will go into making the project a success. States have been asked to asked to keep digital records of the beneficiaries.
Covaxin and Covishield are two-dose vaccines – they need two doses each for maximum protection against the virus. Both can also be stored at normal fridge temperatures (two to eight degrees Celsius) making it easier to transport and store the crores of vials needed to vaccinate the country’s vast population.
India has logged over 1.04 crore cases of coronavirus so far; more than 1 crore people have already recovered; 1.5 lakh people have died.