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Covid vaccine drive accelerates, doses reach far corners of India

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New Delhi, Jan 13: The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines has been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

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As the country is set to begin a massive anti-coronavirus inoculation drive from January 16, the ministry said each vaccination session will cater to a maximum of 100 beneficiaries per day and it has advised states not to organise 'unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day'.

'States have been advised to organise vaccination sessions taking into account 10 percent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session each day.

'Therefore, any undue haste on the part of states to organize unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day is not advised,' the ministry said.

It also said that states and UTs have also been advised to increase the number of vaccination session sites that would be operational every day in a progressive manner as the vaccination process stabilizes and moves forward.

All 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines -- 1.1 crore of Covishield and 55 lakh of Covaxin -- procured by the Centre have been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database, it said.

According to officials, most of the 1.1 crore Covishield doses from Serum Institute of India (SII) have been shipped to 60 consignee points across India from where they will be sent to smaller centres.

Of the 55 lakh doses of indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech ordered by the Centre, the first tranche of 2.4 lakh doses has been dispatched to 12 states.

Covaxin has been sent to 12 sites --- one each in Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai, Lucknow and Hyderabad, an official source said.

Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

The health ministry on Tuesday said the Centre has purchased 1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine from SII at the cost of Rs 200 per dose, excluding taxes, while 55 lakh doses of Covaxin are being procured from Bharat Biotech India Limited.

'Fifty-five lakh doses of Covaxin are being procured from Bharat Biotech. For 38.5 lakh doses the price is Rs 295 each, excluding taxes. Bharat Biotech is providing 16.5 lakh doses for free which ultimately brings the cost of each dose of Covaxin down to Rs 206,' Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said.

The government on Tuesday hinted that vaccine recipients for now will not have the option to choose from the two vaccines -- Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- that have been approved for restricted emergency use in India.

According to the health ministry getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be voluntary.

In a response to a question Bhushan said, 'At many places in the world more than one vaccine are being administered. But, presently, in no country vaccine recipients have the option of choosing the shots.' Bhushan further said that there will be a gap of 28 days between two doses of COVID-19 vaccines and its effectiveness can be seen only after 14 days.

'So we urge people to keep following COVID appropriate behaviour,' he said.

According to the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines', the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.

'Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government,' Bhushan said.

India's COVID-19 caseload increased to 1,04,95,147 with 15,968 infections being reported in a day, while the death toll increased to 1,51,529 with 202 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

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