Niti Aayog member and national COVID-19 task force head Dr Vinod Paul said on Friday that the government will pitch in for the vaccination cost of 30 crore people in the priority group, and not the entire population. "India will pitch for vaccines for 300 million individuals," said Dr Paul and explained that healthcare workers will be targeted in the immediate phase of the vaccination drive. However, preparedness for inoculating the other priority groups is also in the advanced stages.
In the next six to eight months, people from the priority group such as frontline workers and people with comorbidities will be targeted. Dr Paul said that the COVID-19 task force wants to minimise deaths related to coronavirus and hence have chosen the higher risk groups, he said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.
The task force has added 31 COVID-19 vaccine hubs that will supply vaccines to 29,000 vaccination points. "We want to ensure that the entire nation develops herd immunity. The ultimate goal is to stall the spread of the disease for which wider vaccination is required," he said.
Meanwhile, on Friday, India's drug regulator approved the vaccine developed by AstraZenea and Oxford University for emergency use. An expert panel in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) met to deliberate the issue of granting emergency use authorisation and approved the Oxford vaccine.
Umesh Shaligram, Director (R&D) at Serum Institute of India that is manufacturing the Oxford vaccine said, "As of today, we have 75 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. By the first week of January, we will have something around 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine."