Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, announched the launch of the “world’s largest” COVID-19 vaccination campaign for India’s large population. Currently, India is second to the United States in the number of COVID-19 cases recorded, having crossed 10.5 million positive cases and around 152,000 deaths.
“This will be the world’s largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country,” the prime minister’s office claimed in a statement this week.
In a video-conference today, Prime Minister Modi addressed Indian heathcare workers and said he would not himself immediately get the vaccine until the needs of frontline workers have been met. He also urged Indian citizens to not doubt the safety of the vaccines.
“Please do not start being careless once you get vaccinated, do not take off your mask or forget social distancing,” Modi added.
India plans to give vaccination shots to 300 million people, which include around 30 million doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers. The remaining vaccines would be administered on high priority to those more vulnerable to the coronavirus, including people with pre-existing illnesses and those over 50 years of age.
As of now, Indian authorities have approved the emergency use of two vaccines: one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and one locally made by the Indian pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech. It is reported 16.5 millions shots were delivered to different Indian cities via cargo planes last week.