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COVID-19 vaccine free for most prioritised beneficiaries in first phase: Union Health Minister

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the vaccine against COVID-19 will be provided free of cost to most prioritised beneficiaries in the first phase of the vaccination exercise.

January 02, 2021 / 01:24 PM IST
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on January 2 that the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost to most prioritised beneficiaries as part of the first phase of vaccination.

“In the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, free vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers. Details of how further 27 crore priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised,” the union minister said in a tweet.

In another tweet posted by news agency ANI, Vardhan was heard telling reporters that the vaccine will be “free across the country, not just in Delhi”. This was after he was asked by a reporter if the COVID-19 vaccine would be free elsewhere just as it is in the national capital.

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On January 2, Vardhan reviewed the COVID-19 vaccination dry run being held at the GTB Hospital in Delhi. This was part of the second dry run round being held across 116 districts of the country to assess the vaccination procedures, preparedness of personnel and implementation of the Co-WIN platform.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Vardhan also told reporters that COVID-19 vaccines that get approval will be safe and urged people to not believe in rumours.

"I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumours. Ensuring safety and efficacy of vaccine is our priority. Different kinds of rumours were spread during polio immunisation but people took the vaccine and India is now polio-free," the union minister said.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is believed to be in the final stages of evaluating clinical trial data of some COVID-19 vaccine candidates, before granting them an emergency use authorisation.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: What you need to know about manufacturing and pricing

As of January 2, India had reported more than 1.03 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at 1.49 lakh. While more than 99.06 lakh patients had recovered, 2.50 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 8.3 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 18.2 lakh people have died so far.

A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-hit global economy.

Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 2, 2021 01:24 pm

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