Modi receives a dose of COVAXIN at All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in New Delhi on Monday. Reuters
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inoculated with the first dose of a home-grown coronavirus vaccine on Monday, kicking off an expansion of the country’s immunisation campaign that began in mid-January with healthcare workers.
People above 60, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from certain medical conditions, are now eligible for the vaccinations.
India, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States, has so far vaccinated more than 12 million health and front-line workers.
“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” Modi said on Twitter, posting a picture of him getting the shot at a government hospital in New Delhi.
“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”
The government said last week it would let people choose their vaccination centres, effectively letting beneficiaries pick either the home-grown COVAXIN shot or the AstraZeneca vaccine, unlike earlier.
The inoculation campaign has progressed slower than expected due to a reluctance of health and front-line workers to take COVAXIN, which was approved without late-stage efficacy data. Only about 11% of vaccinated people have opted for the product developed by Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.
Bharat Biotech has said efficacy data from a late-stage trial on nearly 26,000 volunteers who took COVAXIN will be out soon. The company, along with India’s drug regulator, says COVAXIN is safe and effective, based on early and intermediate studies.
India has reported more than 11 million coronavirus infections and over 157,000 deaths.
India wants to start administering the vaccine soon, most likely by Wednesday, said one of the sources, both of whom declined to be named ahead of an official announcement expected later in the day.
According to sources, a person with a valid Dubai visa can book an appointment with DHA’s accredited facilities using the toll free number 800342. Authorities said that the Medical Record Number (MRN) is must for booking an appointment.
Member states are struggling to contain a third wave of the epidemic and kick-start vaccine programmes slowed by a shortfall in deliveries, and Britain has warned the bloc against resorting "vaccine nationalism."
Following an EU summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said there was a "new type of world war," adding: "We are looking in particular at Russian and Chinese attacks and attempts to gain influence through the vaccine."
The Japanese capital and Olympic host city Tokyo is on track to report a record number of coronavirus cases, days after the Olympics began, exceeding the earlier record of 2,520 cases from Jan. 7.
The ISPR statement said that a local ANA commander opposite Arundu, Chitral, had requested help for the 46 soldiers —including five officers — as they were unable to hold their military posts along the Pak-Afghan International Border due to the evolving security situation in Afghanistan.
The health ministry said India's total of 31.44 million infections now ranks second only to the United States. After 124 days, the country now has 308,100 active cases which is less than 400,000.