Prime Minister Narendra Modi took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on March 1.
“Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” the prime minister said in a tweet.
India is set to launch the second phase of its vaccination drive on March 1 in which everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine for free at government facilities and for a charge at a number of private hospitals.
Private hospitals have been allowed to charge up to Rs 250 per dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The eligible beneficiaries would be able to register themselves on the purpose-built Co-WIN platform starting 9.00 am on March 1. Co-WIN, a digital platform, was created for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The new version of the Co-WIN platform is GPS-enabled and beneficiaries will have the option to choose the inoculation session site both at the government and private facilities.
The prime minister had launched the nationwide vaccination drive, pegged as the world’s largest, on January 16 with healthcare and frontline workers being given the priority. More than 1.42 crore beneficiaries have received at least their first jabs as part of the two-dose regime.
As of February 28, India had recorded more than 1.1 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1.57 lakh deaths. A total of 1.07 crore patients had recuperated from the infectious disease. However, more than 1.64 lakh cases remained active across the country, comprising 1.48 percent of the total caseload. India’s recovery rate stood at 96.1 percent even as many states were witnessing resurgence in the number of cases being reported per day.
A speedy and efficient vaccination drive is being seen as the only main ways to stop the spread of the disease and to restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy.
In early January, India’s drug regulator had approved two vaccines – Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) – for emergency use in the country. It is expected that more vaccine candidates will get an emergency use approval in the coming months.
Many eligible beneficiaries and experts had expressed apprehensions about the Covaxin vaccine as it is still in the final stages of clinical trial and its efficacy is yet to be ascertained.