The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that it is prepared to roll out the coronavirus vaccine by January 13, paving way for mass vaccination drive in the country.
"We are prepared to roll out Covid-19 vaccines within 10 days of granting emergency use authorisation date, based on dry run feedback," said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press conference. Approval to two vaccines was given on January 3.
The Drug Controller General of India had, on Sunday, announced approvals to two vaccine - Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin - against coronavirus infection - for restricted emergency use.
The announcement is a major relief for India which has the second highest number of infections in the world, after the US.
The vaccine will be first offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.
On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had announced that one crore healthcare workers, along with two crore frontline will get the vaccine for free.
India's active COVID-19 cases are less than 2.5 lakhs and are continuing to fall which has led to a decline in the overall burden on the health delivery structure, said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday.
"The active cases in the country are less than 2.5 lakhs and continue to decline. The positivity rate stood at 1.97 per cent," Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters at a press briefing.
The Health Secretary said that 44 per cent of active cases are in hospital with moderate or severe symptoms while 56 per cent of cases are very mild or asymptomatic and are in home isolation.
"44 per cent of active cases are in hospital with moderate or severe symptoms needing regular care. 56 per cent of cases are very mild or asymptomatic and are in home isolation. The overall burden on health delivery structure declined appreciably on account of COVID in India," said Rajesh Bhushan.
He said that the daily number of deaths is less than 300 for 11 consecutive days while cumulative positivity rate is 5.87 per cent. The positivity rate during last week was 1.97 per cent, he said.
India still ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of active cases and deaths of per million population, with 167 active cases per million and 108 deaths per million.
The country has reported only 96 new cases and 1 death per million population in the last seven days, the Secretary added.
The Union Health Secretary said there are four primary vaccine stores called GMSD located in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and there are 37 vaccine stores in the country.
"The facility including the number of vaccines stored and temperature trackers is monitored digitally. We have this facility for over a decade in the country," he added.
India has reported 16,375 new COVID-19 cases, 29,091 recoveries, and 201 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 1,03,56,845, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Tuesday.
The total number of active cases stands at 2,31,036 while the total recoveries have reached 99,75,958. The death toll due to coronavirus has mounted to 1,49,850.
(With inputs from ANI and IANS)