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.
Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the coronavirus pandemic
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.
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