As many as 33.59 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in India on April 26, according to the Union Health Ministry's latest provisional report.
With that, more than 14.52 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the country so far. On April 26, 20.95 lakh beneficiaries received their first shot and 12.64 lakh people were given their second dose. This included healthcare and frontline workers, people aged over 60 and beneficiaries above the age of 45 with or without comorbidities.
The government had earlier revised the gap between the two doses for the Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, to six-eight weeks. However, the interval for the second dose of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin remains unchanged.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide vaccination drive on January 16, with healthcare workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle getting their first jabs.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
The country began the second phase of the vaccination drive from March 1 in which everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities could start getting the vaccine.
From April 1, vaccination was opened for everyone above the age of 45 with or without comorbidities.
Everyone above 18 years of age will be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 1, the central government announced on April 19 as it liberalised the vaccination drive to allow states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure the doses directly from manufacturers.
Here are key developments related to the COVID-19 vaccination process:
> The Delhi government will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all those above 18 years of age in the city and purchase of 1.34 crore doses has been approved, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on April 26. The government will make efforts to speed up vaccine purchase and administer it to the people, he said in an online briefing.
> More than five lakh people were vaccinated against COVID-19 in Maharashtra till 6 pm on the day, the highest in a day so far, the state health department said.
> The United States has diverted its pending orders of vaccine filters to India's vaccine manufacturing effort as the country reels under a health crisis due to the coronavirus, a top White House official said, hoping that this will help India make more vaccines.
> Poland is sending vaccines this week to have its diplomats in India immunised against COVID-19. A Polish diplomat was evacuated on April 25 from New Delhi in serious condition, together with his sick pregnant wife and four children, and brought to hospitals in Warsaw.
> The central government asked the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech on the day to lower the price of their COVID-19 vaccines amid criticism from various states who accused the companies of profiteering during such a major crisis. The issue of vaccine pricing was discussed at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. Now the two companies are expected to come up with revised pricing for their vaccines. Bharat Biotech has fixed the price of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. SII, the world's largest vaccine maker in terms of volume, has announced a price of Rs 400 per dose for its COVID-19 vaccine, 'Covishield', for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. Both vaccines are available to the central government at a rate of Rs 150 per dose.
Here's the vaccination count in some states:
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