India to begin Covid-19 vaccination program next week

New Delhi, Jan 9 (efe-epa).- India will begin an anti-coronavirus massive vaccination campaign on 16 January with workers in key sectors in the fight against the pandemic being prioritized during the first phase of the rollout, the government said Saturday.

 “On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting Covid-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

“Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis (cleaning workers),” the premier added.

The announcement came after the Indian authorities on Sunday approved “the restricted use for strict emergency” of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Covaxin, developed by the Indian Bharat Biotech Laboratory and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

A group of 30 million workers will be vaccinated first, followed by a group of some 270 million people older than 50 years old and those under 50 with comorbidities, the health ministry said in a statement.

Some 7.9 million people have applied for the vaccine in a process that will be monitored by a digital platform that “will provide real-time information on the vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized monitoring of the vaccine recipients,” the statement read.

So far, over 61,000 program directors, 200,000 vaccinators and other 370,000 members of the vaccination teams have been trained to take part in the campaign across the country.

The beginning of the vaccination campaign in India comes amid dramatic improvements in the number of the coronavirus cases after  nearly 100,000 infections a day were being reported during the peak in September.

Only 18,222 fresh cases have been recorded over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 10.4 million, the health ministry announced on Saturday.

Over the past 24 hours, 228 coronavirus-related deaths have been registered, for a total of 150,798.

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