Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan says that the country is prepared to roll out vaccine within 10 days of emergency use authorisation, subject to government’s nod.

Days after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave approval to two Covid-19 vaccines, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that it is prepared to roll out the coronavirus vaccine by 13 January, paving way for mass vaccination drive in the country.

“We are prepared to roll out Covid-19 vaccines within 10 days of granting emergency use authorisation date, based on dry run feedback,” said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press conference. Approval to two vaccines was given on 3 January.

The Drug Controller General of India had, on Sunday, announced approvals to two vaccine—Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin—for restricted emergency use against Covid-19 infection.

The announcement has come as a major relief for India which has the second highest number of infections in the world, after the US.

Talking about the vaccination process, the Health Secretary said that healthcare workers and frontline workers would not need to register themselves as a beneficiary as their data has been stored in a bulk database. “Healthcare workers and frontline workers would not need to register themselves as a beneficiary as their data in bulk database that has been populated on the Co-WIN vaccine delivery management system in a bulk manner,” said Rajesh Bhushan.

He further said, “When we would come to the population priority group, the provision of registration or editing of data would be used. The system electronically allows session allocation… The process of session allocation would be digital. Whether the beneficiaries have been vaccinated, this will be captured digitally.”

The Health Secretary also emphasised that India’s active Covid-19 cases have now fallen below the 2.5-lakh mark. “The active cases in the country are less than 2.5 lakhs and continue to decline. The positivity rate stood at 1.97 per cent,” he added.

The Health Secretary further said that 44 per cent of active cases are in hospital with moderate or severe symptoms while 56 per cent of cases are very mild or asymptomatic and are in home isolation.

He also revealed how the approved vaccines will travel from manufacturers to the beneficiaries. Addressing a press conference, the health secretary said that the manufacturers will send the vaccine to the Government Medical Store Department depots at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Karnal in Haryana by air. The vaccine will then travel to 37 state vaccine stores from where it will go to district vaccine stores which will then supply primary health care centres, designated as Covid-19 immunisation centres.

Rajesh Bhushan said that India currently has 29,000 cold chain points where the approved vaccines Covishield and Covaxin can be stored safely.

The vaccine will be first offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.

On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had announced that one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline will get the vaccine for free.


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