Bihar to offer free COVID-19 vaccines, even at private hospitals
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that COVID-19 vaccines across the state will be free of cost. This benefit will also be extended to those who get vaccinated at private health facilities. The announcement comes on the day India started the second phase of its nationwide vaccination drive to vaccinate people aged above 60 years and those over 45 with co-morbidities.
Kumar-led alliance had promised free vaccines before elections
At a meeting chaired by CM Kumar on Sunday, the Bihar government had decided that COVID-19 vaccines be given free of cost across the state, even at private hospitals. Before last year's state Assembly elections in November, the Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had promised free vaccinations across the state if they were elected to power—an announcement that was criticized by the Opposition.
Bihar CM gets vaccinated on 70th birthday
Kumar himself received his vaccination shot at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) Hospital in Patna on Monday, incidentally also his 70th birthday. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gotten vaccinated in Delhi.
1.43 crore vaccinated across India so far
India had launched the first phase of its vaccination drive on January 16 with an aim to inoculate three crore health/frontline workers. 1,43,01,266 people have been vaccinated across India so far. On Wednesday, the Centre had announced that, even in the second phase, people would be vaccinated for free at government facilities. However, private facilities were allowed to charge up to Rs. 250/dose.
How bad is the outbreak in Bihar?
As of Sunday, the latest available update, a total of 2,62,534 COVID-19 cases were reported in Bihar, which included 1,541 deaths and 2,60,594 recovered patients. The state has reported under 100 fresh infections every day for nearly the past month. Across India, 1,11,12,241 were reported till Monday morning, including 1,57,157 deaths, 1,68,627 active infections and 1,07,86,457 recovered patients.