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3 cr on frontline to get free vaccine in 1st phase: Vardhan

3 cr on frontline to get free vaccine in 1st phase: Vardhan
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New Delhi: Free Coronavirus vaccines will be given in the first phase to three crore people who have been on the frontline in the fight against the highly contagious disease, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday. The government will give priority to 1 crore healthcare workers and 2 crore frontline workers when India begins the rollout of Covid vaccine.

"In 1st phase of #COVID19Vaccination free #vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare & 2 crore frontline workers. Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised (sic)," Dr Harsh Vardhan tweeted this afternoon.

His remarks come a day after India moved a step closer to getting a vaccine for the disease, which has affected over 1 crore people in the country; killed over 1.49 lakh. A government-appointed expert panel on Friday sent its recommendations for the Oxford vaccine manufactured by Pune's Serum Institute of India — Covishield — to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

"The DCGI will soon take a decision on the recommendation," the Health minister told the reporters as he reviewed the vaccine dry run at a Delhi hospital. He also assured about the safety of the vaccine. "There should be no rumours about the vaccine's safety... Everything has been checked in detail. Initially when the polio vaccine was rolled out, even then rumours had floated. But once it went on the floor, all people were assured about the safety," he said.

The government has been preparing for the vaccine rollout for the last four months, the Health minister added, stating that attention has been paid to the minutest of the details.

A new strain of mutant virus — first detected in the United Kingdom in September — has led to fresh restrictions in India, and across the world. 29 cases have been logged so far in the country. However, the government has said there's no evidence that current vaccines won't be effective against the new strain.

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