India has launched the world’s largest inoculation exercise against the novel coronavirus on Saturday.
Launching the vaccination programme, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a virtual address paid tribute to scientists and healthcare workers, who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“Amid the crisis and the atmosphere of despair, someone was transmitting hope by putting his life on the line to save us,” PM Modi said. He added that safety protocol, including social distancing and wearing masks, must remain in place.
India will administer shots to three crore frontline workers in phase one. There are 3,006 session sites across the country, where 100 beneficiaries each will be given either of India’s two indigenous vaccines, Covaxin or Covishield. Every beneficiary will need to receive two doses of the same vaccine, 28 days apart.
Since the pandemic hit India in early 2020, over one crore and 5.27 lakh people have been infected with the disease, while close to 1.52 lakh have died. At present, Kerala and Maharashtra are reporting the highest number of daily cases.
India is drawing from its experiences of its Universal Immunisation Programme and the booth strategy during elections to conduct the massive drive. The Centre has disbursed Rs 480 crore to states for the operational cost of the exercise. Aadhaar and the Co-WIN platform will be used extensively to identify and monitor beneficiaries. If all goes to plan, 30 crore people may be vaccinated against the contagion by July end.
The government has created a dedicated 24X7 helpline number — 1075 — to address queries related to the vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.
Source: The Indian Express