India rehearses for massive coronavirus vaccination drive; Vardhan assures people on safety of vaccine

NEW DELHI/CHENNAI, 2 Jan: As India came closer to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine, a dry run was held by all states and union territories on Saturday in preparation for a massive inoculation drive, with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealing to the people not to be misguided by rumours and disinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Vardhan said that free vaccine would be provided in the first phase to the most prioritized beneficiaries, including one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers. He said the details of how 27 crore priority beneficiaries – those above 50 years of age and those below it having comorbidities – would be vaccinated until July were being finalized.

In the national capital, where the dry run was held at three sites, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that free coronavirus vaccine will be provided to the people in the city.

Interacting with reporters during a visit to a facility in Daryaganj, he said the system “seems flawless” as of now.

Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat conducted the mock drill in four districts each, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in five districts each, while Rajasthan carried out the dry-run in seven districts.

India has reported 1.03 crore Covid-19 cases so far and the exercise was held on a day an expert panel of the central drug authority recommended granting permission for restricted emergency use of the indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, with certain conditions, after giving similar direction for the Oxford vaccine Covishield.

The first dry run was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab on 28-29 December with at least 125 intended beneficiaries at five sites in a maximum of two districts each.

The union health ministry had said that no major issues were observed during the pilot dry run and all states had expressed confidence in the operational guidelines and IT platform for large-scale programme implementation. (PTI)