PM Modi meets chief ministers over Covid-19 vaccine rollout
New Delhi, Jan 11: Ahead of the mega COVID-19 vaccine roll-out on January 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a meeting of the chief ministers of all states and union territories virtually to discuss the strategy and future course of action.
This is Modi's first interaction with chief ministers following the recent approval of two coronavirus vaccines for restricted emergency use by India's drug regulator and the announcement of January 16 as the date for the rollout.
The prime minister has often spoken with state chief ministers following the pandemic's outbreak in the country.
India's drugs regulator has approved Oxford vaccine Covishield, being manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.
At least seven other vaccines are being developed in India, while some others can be imported from abroad, including the one developed by global pharma giant Pfizer which has already applied for import and sale in India of its vaccine for emergency use authorisation.
Many countries have launched mass vaccination programmes to protect their people from the deadly virus, which was first detected in China in December 2019 and has killed nearly 20 lakh people globally and infected almost 9 crore people since then.
The vaccination drive in India is starting almost one year after the first case was reported on January 30, 2020 in Kerala, though a wider outbreak began in March after a few people in Delhi and adjoining areas were tested positive after returning from abroad.
In December 2020, the UK became the first country to start vaccination, followed by several other nations, including the US, Belarus, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Malta, Mexico, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the UAE.
In some countries, heads of the government have been the first to get the shot, while elsewhere healthcare workers, sanitation staff or elderly people have got vaccinated before anyone else.
But shortly after the vaccination programme began in the UK, the country imposed strict lockdown conditions after a more contagious strain of the virus was found. This also led to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelling his visit to India for being the chief guest for Republic Day parade on January 26.