Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (January 16) launched India's coronavirus vaccination drive via video conference.
Addressing the nation on this big occasion, the prime minister said, "Everyone was waiting for this day with bated breath. Everyone kept asking when will the vaccine come. It’s here and in a short span of time. In some minutes from now, the world’s biggest vaccination drive is to begin."
The world's largest vaccination programme in India will take place in all the states and union territories across the length and breadth of the country.
The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive will cover three crore healthcare and frontline workers, as they are getting vaccinated first in this drive. The vaccine is provided free of cost for this targeted phase.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier approved the Serum Institute of India's Covishield (developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca) and Bharat Biotech's indigenously developed Covaxin for restricted emergency use, which has led to the vaccination drive.
DCGI on January 3 had granted restricted emergency use authorisation to the Serum Institute of India (SII)'s 'Covishield' and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' vaccine.
Covishield is over 70 percent effective, while Covaxin is currently in the Phase 3 trials but is "safe and provides a robust immune response", the drug regulator had earlier stated.
The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and it was manufactured in India by Serum Institute. The vaccine has shown a 70.4 percent in a pooled analysis of interim data from late-stage trials published in The Lancet.
The vaccine is stored and transported at a refrigeration temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius.
According to the Times of India, Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated two-dose SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, manufactured in a “Vero cell” by Bharat Biotech. Moreover, those suffering from adverse events post-vaccination will be paid compensation. Moreover, beneficiaries will be treated at the designated hospital or authorized centers.
It is to be noted that the vaccine is yet to complete its third phase clinical trials, and therefore many people have apprehensions about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccination sites at the six Mumbai central government hospitals will be tasked with the responsibility to administer the vaccine.