The first to get vaccinated will be 30 million healthcare and other frontline workers, followed by around 270 million people over the age of 50.
Indian airlines have started delivering batches of COVID-19 vaccines across the country, preparing for the launch of a campaign to deliver vaccines to 1.3 billion people in what officials are calling the ‘most great vaccination campaign in the world ”.
The vaccines were rolled out Tuesday from the facilities of the Indian Serum Institute in temperature-controlled trucks to the city’s airport, from where they were loaded onto private air carriers for distribution throughout the country. country.
Authorities hope to vaccinate 300 million high-risk people over the next six to eight months. Vaccinations are expected to start on Saturday.
The first to be vaccinated will be 30 million healthcare workers and other frontline workers, followed by around 270 million people over the age of 50 or deemed to be at high risk.
Airlines were scheduled to deliver 5.65 million doses of vaccine to various cities on Tuesday, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter, calling the vaccine shipment a “mission critical”.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, officials said vaccine distribution was their top priority.
“These vaccines will be transported to the cold room at the airport and quickly delivered to the vaccination booths,” said Nitin Patel, chief deputy minister of Gujarat.
Modi’s government on Monday signed purchase agreements with Pune-based vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India, to purchase its Covishield vaccine – more than a week after approving the vaccine developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca and the ‘University of Oxford.
Serum is providing some 11 million doses of the vaccine to the government at 200 rupees ($ 2.72) a dose, a source said.
India’s drug regulator has also approved a local vaccine, Covaxin from Bharat Biotech, for emergency use.
But medical groups and others have raised concerns about the drug’s approval with little evidence of its effectiveness.
It is still unclear when and where Covaxin will be distributed.
Health officials in eastern and western states said they would use the experience of regular childhood polio immunization programs to ensure everyone is covered in what they called the world’s largest vaccination campaign.
But shoddy transportation networks and a crumbling healthcare system add a huge layer of complexity, they said.
With nearly 10.5 million, India has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world behind the United States, although the rate of increase in cases has slowed.
The number of infections in India rose to 12,584 on Tuesday, the smallest daily increase in several months. More than 151,000 people have died from the virus in India.