NEW DELHI (INDIA) – As part of the vaccination drive launched to curb the pandemic in India, sanitation worker Manish Kumar get’s the first shot of the vaccine. What is touted as the world’s largest immunisation campaigns was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
Nurses, doctors and other frontline workers have been prioritised to get the shot, said Modi as he addressed healthcare workers through video conferencing.
“The disease separated people from their families, kept mothers away from their children, and those who died of the disease couldn’t even get a final goodbye from their families,” Modi said.
The singing of Sanskrit hymns followed the prime minister’s address. Modi, 70, is yet to clarify whether he will be taking the vaccine, but he has said that politicians would not be considered frontline workers.
Kumar received his shot at Delhi’s premier All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) which is one of the 3,006 vaccination centres established around the country.
On the first day of an immunisation campaign, that the government says is the biggest in the world, India aims to vaccinate around 300,600 people.
First in line for the vaccine are some 30 million health and other frontline workers, such as those in sanitation and security, followed by about 270 million people older than 50 or deemed high-risk because of pre-existing medical conditions.
People will not be able to choose between the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine and a government-backed, vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech whose efficacy is not known. Both are being produced locally.
India, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections after the United States, and it plans to vaccinate around 300 million people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year.
The government has already bought 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVISHIELD shot, produced by the Serum Institute of India, and 5.5 million of Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN.
COVISHIELD is 72% effective, according to the Indian drug regulator, while Bharat Biotech says COVAXIN’s last-stage trial results are expected by March.