PM Modi launches ‘world’s largest’ Covid-19 vaccination drive

New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first phase of the pan-India Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday through video conference.

“In a short time two made-in-India vaccines have been developed and this reflects India’s advancement in the field of science and medicine,” PM Modi said adding that those who are at the highest risk will be vaccinated first.

Healthcare workers in both government and private hospitals will be vaccinated first, followed by frontline workers, Modi said.

During the first phase of the drive nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers will be vaccinated throughout the country.

A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and union territories were virtually connected during the launch. According to reports, around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.

Healthcare workers will be vaccinated with either Serum Institute’s Covishield or Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The Centre has purchased 1.10 crore doses of Covishield and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin. While Serum Institute sold its vaccine at a cost of Rs 210 per vial (including taxes), Bharat Biotech provided 16.5 lakh shots of Covaxin free of cost to the Centre while it sold 38.5 lakh doses at a cost of Rs 295 (sans tax).

On the eve of the roll-out, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the preparations and visited the dedicated Covid control room set up at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry.

The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the health ministry said in a statement.

Speaking about the drive on Friday, Vardhan said, “It is the last phase of our battle against coronavirus. I say, this is probably the beginning of the end of Covid.”

An online digital platform Co-WIN, developed by the health ministry, will be used to drive the vaccination programme.