With COVID-19 vaccine likely to be ready by early next year, India is looking at vaccinating about 30 million frontline workers in the first phase when the vaccine becomes available.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on the sidelines of a Covid-19 media briefing said that 30 million including 7 million doctors and paramedics, in addition to 20 million other frontline health workers will get COVID-19 vaccine in first phase.
"The country has the infrastructure already in place to vaccinate the 30 million. We have the cold chain, vials, syringes and everything," Bhushan told Hindustan Times. The first phase of vaccination has been tentatively scheduled between January and June 2021.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had recently said a COVID-19 vaccine was likely by the first quarter of next year and the Centre has estimated to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine on 20-25 crore people.
At a press conference, when asked about vaccine priority groups, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 has come up with a draft prioritisation plan.
"If the present trials proceed according to plan and succeed, then the number of doses that would be available from January to July would be sufficient to immunise all those on the priority list," Bhushan, who is the co-chair of the panel, said.
To a question on capping the price for COVID-19 treatment, the health secretary said the Supreme Court has given directions to the state and central governments in this regard and they Are being followed.
He said more than 9.6 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far. The cumulative, weekly and daily positivity rate was 7.90 per cent, 6.0 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
"COVID-19 fatality rate has declined from 1.77 pc on September 1 to 1.52 pc as on date. New COVID-19 cases reported in a span of 24 hours were below 50,000 after 84 days," Bhushan said, adding Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal account for 64 per cent of all active COVID-19 cases.
The health secretary added that India's COVID-19 cases per million population in the last seven days was 310 against a global average of 315. With over 67 lakh people recuperating from the infection so far, India has the highest number of recoveries in the world. It stands second in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in any country so far, he said.