The Centre is in the process of procuring 55 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
Of the 55 lakh doses, 16.5 lakh doses will be provided free of cost, while the rest will be sold at Rs 295 (sans taxes) per vial to the Centre, officials said.
The announcement comes a day after the central government had signed a purchase order to buy 1.10 crore doses of the coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
All vaccine doses that have been ordered so far will be received by January 14, two days ahead of the nation-wide vaccination drive, health ministry officials said.
“Over 54 lakh Covishield doses (Covid-19 vaccines being developed by Serum Institute) were received till 4 pm Tuesday at designated national, state-level vaccination centres,” officials said.
The health ministry also urged everyone to continue following social-distancing norms. “India's overall Covid-19 positivity rate stands at 5.7 percent. Positivity rate during the last one week was recorded at 2 percent. Even though the daily case tally is declining in India, we can't show laxity,” officials said adding that about 43.96 percent of all Covid-19 patients in the country are in healthcare facilities while 56.04 percent are in home isolation.
The health ministry further said that the coronavirus vaccines’ effectiveness can only be gauged after 14 days of being administered the dose and that there will be a gap of 28 days between the administration of the two doses.
India will launch its Covid-19 vaccination drive from January 16. During the first phase of the drive nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers will be vaccinated.
India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford's Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Both vaccines, the statement from the Health Ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity.
Dr V K Paul member, NITI Aayog member, said these two vaccines have been tested on thousands of people and they are the safe and there is no significant risk.
"We should have no doubt that the two vaccines approved are the safest of (all Covid-19) vaccines. Both the vaccines have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible. There is no risk of any significance," he said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there will be a sequential rollout of Covid-19 vaccination.
"Healthcare workers (approximately one crore) will be given top priority, followed by frontline workers (approximately 2 crore) and prioritized age groups (approximately 27 crore). The cost of vaccination for healthcare workers and frontline workers will be borne by the central government," Bhushan said.
He also hinted that during the first phase, the vaccine recipients will not have the option of choosing between the two vaccines.
Replying to a Bhushan said, "At many places in the world, multiple vaccines are being administered, but presently, in no country, vaccine recipients have the option of choosing the shots."
(With PTI inputs)
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