It’s Official

The Union Health Ministry has said that the much-awaited coronavirus vaccination drive will kick off on January 16.

 “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,” the ministry said in a statement.

The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine will give priority to the healthcare and frontline workers who are estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with comorbidities numbering around 27 crore.

On January 3, two vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India – were approved for restricted emergency use.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the status of Covid-19 in the country along with the preparedness of the states and UTs for the vaccination drive.

The Prime Minister took a detailed and comprehensive review of the status of Covid management covering various issues. Modi was also briefed about the preparedness status of the Centre in close collaboration with the state and UT governments for the roll-out of the vaccine.

The Prime Minister was also apprised about the Co-WIN vaccine delivery management system. The unique digital platform will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of the beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccine.

This platform will assist the programme managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform.

As the vaccinators and vaccine administrators comprise a crucial pillar of the vaccination exercise, their training process was detailed out. A total of 2,360 participants were trained during the national level ‘Training of Trainers’ which comprised state immunisation officials, cold chain officials, IEC officials, and development partners, among others.

More than 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of the trainings in the state, district and block levels.

The Prime Minister was also apprised on the three phases of dry runs which have been conducted across the country. The third dry run was conducted on Friday across 615 districts covering 4,895 sites in 33 states and UTs.

Meanwhile, addressing the valedictory session of the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention via video conferencing Ram Nath Kovind said that even as 2020 has been the year of a global crisis caused by Covid-19, the pandemic gave India a new identity as the ‘pharmacy of the world.’

The fame was achieved as India supplied medicines to nearly 150 countries during the pandemic, said the President.

“India has been at the forefront in forging a global response to combat the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic. We supplied medicines to nearly 150 countries, making the world look at India as the ‘pharmacy of the world’,” said the President.

Noting the recent success of Indian scientists and technicians in developing two Covid vaccines, Kovind said it is a major achievement for the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan which is driven by the spirit of global well-being.

The President further said that the seeds of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat were sown many years ago by Mahatma Gandhi’s call for ‘Swadeshi’ and self-reliance. “Our vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat has five key pillars of economy, infrastructure, demography, democracy and supply chains. Successful integration of all these factors will help achieve rapid growth and development.”

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