India expands coronavirus vaccination drive after inoculating 14 million

New Delhi, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- After inoculating some 14 million health-care workers and those in the front-line in the fight against the pandemic, India extended its vaccination drive on Monday to those over the age of 60 and adults over 45 with comorbidities such as heart problems or diabetes.

The registration process to receive the vaccine started early morning through a government website.

While the vaccine is available free of cost in public healthcare centers, people may also choose to receive the shot in private clinics, where a price cap has been set at 250 rupees ($3.30) per person for a dose.

The day also witnessed the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, receiving his first dose.

“Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences). Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” Modi said in statement.

“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” he added, as the South Asian country begins the second phase of its vaccination campaign.

The prime minister also tweeted an image of himself receiving the vaccine shot, surrounded by two healthcare professionals, while smiling for the camera.

India has described its drive as the largest vaccination campaign in the world against the novel coronavirus, and aims to inoculate some 300 million people in the first half of the year.

The South Asian country has approved two vaccines for use within its territory: Covishield, jointly developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and Covaxin, developed by Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech and administered despite not having concluded its clinical trials.

India has recorded 15,510 new cases of Covid-19 and 106 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 11.1 million and 157,157 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

These numbers are far from the record of nearly 100,000 positive cases per day registered in September. However, the recent uptick in cases in several states such as Maharashtra in the west or Kerala in the south has become a matter of concern for the authorities. EFE-EPA


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