Vaccine rollout by January 13

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 5

India’s Covid-19 vaccine delivery plan gathered pace on Tuesday with the Centre saying it was ready for a rollout by January 13.

In first indications of Covid jabs being days away, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “We are ready to roll out Covid vaccines within 10 days of the grant of emergency use authorisation (EUA). The Drug Controller gave the EUA to the vaccines on January 3. The final call on the date of the rollout will be taken by the government.”

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Logistics in place

  • Four national-level vaccine cold storage depots at Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 37 state-level storage sites in place
  • 29,000 cold storage sites to distribute vaccines to primary health centres and other sites where shots will be given

The 10-day period ends on January 13 with clear indications that the Health Ministry was geared to administer shots to 30 crore in priority groups, including one crore health workers, two crore frontline workers and 27 crore people aged 50 and above and those below 50 with comorbid conditions.

71 UK returnees have mutant virus

New Delhi: India on Tuesday saw the lowest daily cases in more than six months even as the government said 71 UK returnees have been detected with the mutant virus. There were 16,375 new cases in the past 24 hours – the lowest in over six months – as the caseload mounted to 1,03,56,844.

The logistics are in place, the government said, citing four national-level vaccine cold storage depots at Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 37 state-level storage sites. The national depots will store the vaccines for further distribution to state depots and later cover all 29,000 cold storage sites from where the vaccines will be transported in temperature-monitored equipment to primary health centres and the other sites where the shots will be administered.

SII, Bharat Biotech pledge smooth run

In a show of solidarity, Adar Poonawalla and Krishna Ella, jointly on behalf of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, on Tuesday communicated their intent to develop and supply the vaccines for India and the world. “Both our companies consider it our duty to the nation and world at large to ensure a smooth rollout,” they said.

Health and frontline workers would not have to self-register on Co-WIN, the digital vaccine delivery platform, Bhushan said, adding that the vaccine dry runs were successful and vaccinators trained in handling adverse events following immunisation.

In a major announcement today, the government also said India was open to exports of the newly approved vaccines – Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

“Vaccines are global public goods and the government has not initiated any ban on exports,” said Rajesh Bhushan as the SII and Bharat Biotech jointly communicated their pledge for a smooth rollout of vaccines to India and the world.

“Vaccines have the power to save lives and accelerate the return of economic normalcy at the earliest. Now that two Covid vaccines have been issued the EUA in India, the focus is on manufacturing, supply and distribution, such that populations that need it the most receive high quality, safe and efficacious vaccines. Both our companies are fully engaged in this activity and consider it our duty to the nation and the world at large to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines,” SII chief Adar Poonawala and Biotech chairman Krishna Ella said, adding that they were fully aware of the importance of vaccines for people and countries alike.

The no-export-ban development comes when India is prioritising vaccine delivery to 30 crore most vulnerable people at home.

“The Covid vaccination is at present a public health priority and the target is to vaccinate the most vulnerable and prevent deaths. We will come to individual issues of supplies later,” VK Paul, chairman, COVID vaccine task force, said today when asked when the vaccines will be available in the open market for people to buy.

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