Policy & Regulation
Indian officials urge people to participate in COVID-19 vaccination programme
13 January 2021 -

CNN reported on Wednesday that officials in India are ramping up their messaging that the two COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use are safe, in order to encourage participation in the country's vaccine rollout.

Speaking a news conference on 12 January 2021, Dr V. K. Paul, Member (Health) of the Indian government think tank NITI Aayog, was quoted as saying that the vaccines Covishield and Covaxin "have been tested on thousands of people and the side-effects are negligible," adding, "Let's give the message that these vaccines are safe and secure. We need to send the message. We need to take this message and defeat coronavirus."

Paul urged the media to raise awareness, saying, "We believe it is very much in our grasp to mount the world's largest vaccination program, which is set to begin from January 16."

Rajesh Bhushan, a senior official of India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, added that the vaccines were granted approval through a "well prescribed regulatory process."

The Health Ministry of India has placed a purchase order for 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine, branded locally as Covishield, and 5.5 million doses of the vaccine Covaxin, developed locally by Bharat Biotech.

Under the world's most ambitious mass immunization programmes ever undertaken, India with a population of 1.35 billion, is planning to inoculate 300 million frontline workers, elderly and vulnerable people by August 2021, with preparations been months in the making.

Reportedly, in its first phase, the government intends to vaccinate 10 million healthcare workers free of charge.

According to figures released by the Health Ministry, on 13 January 2021, India confirmed 15,968 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 10,495,147. The number of fatalities rose by 202, bringing the death toll to 151,529.