Beginning of end of COVID-19, says Vardhan ahead of vaccination drive

Beginning of end of COVID-19, says Vardhan ahead of vaccination drive

New Delhi: A day before a massive countrywide vaccination drive against coronavirus is set to commence, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the step is "probably the beginning of the end" of COVID-19.

Speaking at the 146th India Meteorological Department (IMD) foundation day, he, however, cautioned that even if the vaccination drive is on, there should not be lowering of guard and people must follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

"Tomorrow is an important is the last phase of the battle against coronavirus. I say, this is probably the beginning of the end of COVID now which is going to start tomorrow," Vardhan, who is also Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister, said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 via video conferencing. This will be the world's largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country and all preparations are in place to initiate the programme. A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and Union territories will be virtually connected during the launch and around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site on the first day.

The vaccination programme is based on principles of priority groups to be vaccinated first. Healthcare workers, both in the government and private sectors, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

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