Asia Coronavirus (COVID-19) World

Wed 13 January 2021:

India has kicked off one of the world’s biggest inoculation programs that will be a crucial test of how quickly developing countries, with limited health and transportation infrastructure, can protect their populations against Covid-19.

Refrigerated trucks and private planes, accompanied by police officers, fanned out from Pune on Tuesday to around 60 different locations across India as hundreds of thousands of medical workers are on standby to start vaccinations this weekend.

With a protracted back-and-forth over a supply deal resolved, doses that had been sitting in storage at Serum Institute of India Ltd. started going out to government depots and then beyond to hospital and health centers in cities and the hinterland.


Serum, the company enlisted to manufacture a billion doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine has started shipments after it received orders from the Indian government for 11 million shots priced at around 200 rupees plus taxes ($2.86) a dose, Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, health ministry told reporters at a briefing in New Delhi Tuesday.

The government has designated four main distribution points — Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata — and there are 37 state vaccine storage areas in the country but few details have been made available about where and to whom the first shots will be administered on Saturday.


Plans drawn up by health ministry outline broad steps to inoculate 300 million people in the first stage through August.

In a first round 30 million health care and front line workers — such as police and defense force staff — will be vaccinated, with the federal government picking up the tab, PM Modi said on Monday.

In the second round, about 270 million people of above 50 years of age and those at particular risk to Covid will receive shots.

There is no information on when and at what price Serum can start selling it shots privately.

More than 61,000 program managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members have been trained at states to carry out the exercise, according to the government.

While the government is optimistic about its inoculation drive it will be held back by production constraints and the fact the program will heavily rely on state governments whose capacities and expertise vary widely, Akhil Bery, Scott Rosenstein and Peter Mumford, analysts at Eurasia Group, said in a note on Jan. 11.

A successful vaccination drive is important for Modi “who is under pressure from ongoing farmer protests,” the note added.

-NDTV | Photo: SpiceJet Twitter




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