COVID-19 vaccines will be free across India: Union Health Minister
As India prepares to launch the world's biggest immunization drive, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Saturday announced COVID-19 vaccines would be provided free of cost across the country. He also appealed to people not to pay heed to anti-vaccine rumors. His statements come as the country kickstarted the second COVID-19 vaccination dry run across all states and Union Territories today. Here's more.
"I want to appeal to people to not believe in any rumors. Our prime criteria in the vaccine trial is the safety and efficacy and nothing will be compromised (sic)," Vardhan said while reviewing the dry run at a government-run hospital in Delhi. "Different kinds of rumors were also spread during polio immunization, but people took the vaccine and now India is polio-free," he said.
I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumours. Ensuring safety efficacy of vaccine is our priority. Different kinds of rumours were spread during polio immunisation but people took the vaccine India is now polio-free: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/Ig1fThd0Gc— ANI (@ANI) January 2, 2021
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain earlier today said that COVID-19 vaccines will be provided for free in the national capital. Commenting on the same, Vardhan told news agency ANI, "Not just in Delhi, it will be free across the country."
"In the first phase of vaccination, free vaccines shall be provided across the nation to most prioritized beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers," Vardhan tweeted on Saturday. "Details of how further 27 crore priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalized (sic)," the Union Health Minister said.
In 1st phase of #COVID19Vaccination free #vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare 2 crore frontline workers— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) January 2, 2021
Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised pic.twitter.com/K7NrzGrgk3
Speaking on the second dry run, Vardhan said, "Feedbacks received after the dry run in four states were included in guidelines for vaccination and today's dry run...Except for giving the actual vaccine, every procedure is being followed during the drill." To recall, the first dry run was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Punjab on December 28 and 29.
Notably, the second vaccination dry run is being conducted across the country after a government-constituted expert committee recommended granting emergency use authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University on January 1. The recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) have been sent to the Drugs Controller General of India, Dr. VG Somani, for final approval.
The application for emergency use authorization for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was submitted by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing doses for India and other countries. Hyderabad-headquartered Bharat Biotech also applied for emergency use authorization for its COVAXIN. Asking Bharat Biotech to expedite the current clinical trial's volunteer recruitment, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization recommended conducting interim efficacy analysis for further consideration.