Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said on Sunday healthcare and frontline workers will be administered the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the first phase in the national capital, even as the Drugs Controller General of India gave final approval for the emergency-use of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech shots.
“There are three lakh healthcare workers and six lakh frontline workers in Delhi who will be administered with the Covid-19 vaccine,” Jain was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The health minister had said on Saturday all residents of Delhi, who were eligible, will be given the Covid-19 vaccines free of cost and that the government had made all arrangements from storing the shots to administering the doses. “The Delhi government already provides free medicines and treatment to residents of the city. The vaccine against Covid-19 will also be provided free of cost to the people of Delhi, once it arrives,” he said while addressing reporters.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced on December 24 last year that the Delhi government had identified 5.1 million people, who come under the Centre’s ‘priority category’, would be administered the vaccines in the first phase. Kejriwal said that each of these people was being registered and an SMS would be sent to their phones notifying about the date, time and place of vaccination. The chief minister highlighted that the ‘priority category’ was divided into three parts: healthcare workers, frontline workers, and the elderly and those with comorbidities adding that each person will be given two doses of the vaccine.
The national capital registered 494 Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the lowest in seven months. The total cases are now over 626,000 of which 10,571 people have died. The active cases have dropped to 5,342 while 610,535 have been cured or discharged. Health minister Jain warned that though the third wave is going down, one needs to be careful and observe all precautions.
DCGI VG Somani said the overall efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 70.42%, while Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was “safe and provides a robust immune response”. The British-developed Oxford-AstraZeneca shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and will be branded Covishield, while Bharat Biotech has teamed up with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to make the vaccine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter right after the regulator’s announcement and said the approvals were a decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight that accelerates the road to a healthier and Covid-free nation.