CM: Free vaccine for all in Delhi even if Centre does not go for it
New Delhi: As Delhi gears up for its inoculation drive starting January 16 and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin doses also having landed at IGIA on Wednesday morning, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the Delhi government would provide the vaccine to its residents for free even if the Centre does not.
However, senior officials in the Delhi government have confirmed to the Millennium Post that residents will not have a choice between the two vaccines but that authorities would prioritise the use of Oxford-Astra-Zeneca's Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute here over Bharat Biotech's.
When the vaccines were first given approval by drug regulators in India, there was a major controversy over the approval granted to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, with reports revealing that it was yet to complete its Phase-III trials.
While the first tranche of 2.64 lakh doses of Covishield landed in Delhi on Tuesday morning, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin doses landed here on Wednesday morning and transported to the central cold storage facility at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital through a "green corridor" facilitated by the Delhi Police.
"Covishield will be first rolled out and only if there is a scarcity of it then Covaxin will be used. Due to the large consignment of Covishield hat has arrived, it is being prioritised. Although, those who are given Covishield as their first shot will be given the same in the second shot, mixing of it will not be allowed," a senior official who is also an Advisor to the CM said on account of anonymity.
"Since Covishield was the first to arrive and is available in large quantity. We will stick to using this first unless there is a shortage in supply," another official said.
The vaccination process will begin on January 16 between 8 am to 8:30 am at all the 75 identified centres which include government-run facilities and private, the official said. The Centre had initially finalised around 5,000 sites across the country for the vaccination which has been reduced to 2,934 sites and for the Capital it has been reduced to 75 from the initial 89.
"Fine-tuning of the entire process will happen once the vaccine is given out. There are several nitty-gritty details that are yet to be worked out and several decisions will be taken in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow and the day after," another senior health official said.
Meanwhile, CM Kejriwal has appealed to the Central government that the Covid-19 vaccination should be provided free of cost to all, adding the Delhi government would do it if the Centre does not.
"I request everyone to not spread misinformation about the Covid vaccine. I had appealed to the Central government that the Covid vaccination should be provided free of cost to all. If the Centre does not do it and a need arises, the vaccine will be provided for free to people of Delhi," he said.
"The vaccine will first be given to Corona warriors such as health workers, frontline workers. I hope that the struggle of the last year will come to an end and hope that people will get some relief from the Corona pandemic. I believe that the Central government along with the scientists etc have followed all protocols and safeguards before bringing this vaccine. There should be no doubt regarding it," he added.
Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 357 fresh COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the infection tally in the city to over 6.31 lakh, even as the positivity rate slipped to 0.50 per cent.
This is also the tenth time the daily incidences count stood below the 500-mark in January.
The infection tally in the city stood at over 6.31 lakh and the death toll mounted to 10,718 with 11 new fatalities, they said.
This month, 585 cases were reported on January 1 and 494 on January 2; 424 on January 3; 384 on January 4, and 442 on January 5; 654 on January 6; 486 on January 7 and 444 on January 8; 519 on January 9 and 399 on January 10; 306 on January 11 and 386 on January 12.
The active cases tally on Wednesday stood at 2,991, while the positivity rate dropped to 0.50 per cent.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had earlier said that the positivity rate had been below one per cent for the past several days, indicating improvement in the pandemic situation here.