Vardhan assures people on safety of vaccine
New Delhi: As India came closer to the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine, a dry run was held by all states and union territories on Saturday in preparation for a massive inoculation drive, with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealing to people not to be misguided by rumours and disinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
Vardhan said that free vaccine would be provided in the first phase to the most prioritised beneficiaries, including one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers. He said the details of how 27 crore priority beneficiaries — those above 50 years of age and those below it having comorbidities — would be vaccinated until July were being finalised.
India has reported 1.03 crore COVID-19 cases so far and the exercise was held on a day an expert panel of the central drug authority recommended granting permission for restricted emergency use of the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, with certain conditions, after giving similar direction for the Oxford vaccine Covishield.
The union health ministry had said that no major issues were observed during the pilot dry run and all states had expressed confidence in the operational guidelines and IT platform for large-scale programme implementation.
“I appeal to the people not to be misguided by rumours regarding safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine. We will not compromise on any protocol before approving a vaccine,” Vardhan said underlining that vaccine hesitancy was an issue even when the country started polio immunisation drive, but “we must remember its success”.
“It is as a result of our steadfastness and dedication, that India was declared polio-free in 2014. Our rich learning from the earlier immunisation drives including the Polio vaccination campaign is being used to guide our present countrywide COVID19 vaccination campaign,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.
Guidelines for the nationwide dry run were updated based on the feedback from the insightful pilot dry run held on Monday and Tuesday in four states, Vardhan said.