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India's COVID-19 vaccination drive to kick off on Jan 16

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New Delhi, Jan 09: India is on track to roll out the highly anticipated Covid vaccination drive on 16th January 2021. Priority will be given to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers, estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.

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The announcement comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review status of COVID-19 in the country along with preparedness of the State/UTs for COVID vaccination, today.

Meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Health Secretary, & other senior officials.

"After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, etc, the COVID-19 vaccination will start from January 16, 2021," a government statement said.

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After healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore, it added.

"Emergency Use Authorisation or Accelerated Approval has been granted by the National Regulator for two vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) which have established safety and immunogenicity," the government said.

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    The DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, domestically manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's indigenous Covaxin for restricted emergency use.

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    There are 2,24,190 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which constitutes 2.16 per cent of the total caseload so far of over 1.04 crore, according to the latest Health Ministry data. More than 1.5 lakh people have died so far.

    However, the spread of the virus has lessened in a big way in the country as the daily number of new cases has dropped to less than 20,000 from a peak of almost 98,000 in September last year.

    However, the overall caseload for India is the second-highest in the world after the US, which has reported more than 2 crore cases so far -- almost double of India''s cumulative tally.

    In terms of deaths also, the US has recorded the most at nearly 3.7 lakh, followed by over 2 lakh in Brazil and about 1.5 lakh in India.

    However, India tops the global charts for recovery with more than 1 crore having recuperated after contracting the deadly virus.

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