India is extending its coronavirus vaccination program today to include people over the age of 60 and those over the age of 45 who are sick, in an attempt to monitor the spread of more infectious virus strains and an increase in cases in some states. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. on www.cowin.gov.in and the Aarogya Setu app, with walk-in vaccinations available in some locations. India started its vaccination campaign on January 16 with the goal of inoculating 3 million frontline staff but has so far only given out 1.43 million shots due to reluctance.
Here's a 10-point rundown of the main story:
In this second step, the government hopes to vaccinate 30 crore people by August. In the coming days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all Chief Ministers, MPs, and MLAs over the age of 50 are expected to be vaccinated.
The government has announced that, unlike now, people will be able to choose their coronavirus vaccination centres while registering, essentially allowing beneficiaries to choose a vaccine, which officials claim will speed up the roll-out.
Covishield, produced by Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research, will be used in the campaign (ICMR).
Health and frontline staff have been reluctant to take the Covaxin vaccine, which was approved without late-stage efficacy evidence. According to the news agency Reuters, only 11% of people who have been vaccinated have selected the medication.
More vaccines, including Russia's Sputnik-V and Cadila Healthcare's ZyCov-D, are expected to be approved in the coming months.
Aside from vaccine apprehension, early glitches in the CoWIN software framework slowed India's immunisation campaign, forcing several states to go offline. Officials have announced that they have worked out the kinks and that vaccinations will be suspended this weekend in order to update the network.
Private clinics will be allowed to charge up to $250 for a single vaccine injection, while government facilities will have free vaccines. Hospitals will be expected to pay $150 per vaccine dose. The vaccine will be administered to over 10,000 private hospitals.
Critical heart conditions, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension are among the 20 medical conditions that make people aged 45 to 60 eligible for the vaccine, according to the government. A doctor's note will be needed for beneficiaries in this age group.
According to health ministry numbers, India, which has the second-highest number of cases after the United States with 1.1 crores, saw 16,752 new infections in the last 24 hours. Cases have risen in Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab in recent days.
The coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in China's Wuhan in late 2019, has killed more than 1.57 lakh people and infected more than 1.1 crore people in India. Last March, a hasty lockdown that lasted months wreaked havoc on the economy and overwhelmingly affected the poor and marginalised.