On Friday, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the Lok Sabha that the third phase of the vaccination drive is likely to begin in March. During which, about 27 crore people aged 50 and above will be vaccinated along with people with co-morbodities.
During the question hour, he revealed that about five million people have been vaccinated so far.
According to a PTI report, he added that the vaccination drive for frontline workers has begun this week. “In coming days, 27 crore people who are of above 50 years of age and those under 50 with co-morbidities will be vaccinated.”
In India, the vaccination drive began in January 16 this year. Frontline workers and healthcare workers were the first to receive the vaccine which has been estimated to be around three crore people. “After the completion of first and second phases, the third phase could be launched from any week next month,” Vardhan said according to the PTI report. Although he couldn’t give an exact date, he said “It is not possible to give an exact date, but we estimate that this process can start in the second, third or the fourth week of March”.
During the Budget session, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 35,000 crore for vaccination in the budget and assured that it could be increased if required. For the vaccination drive two vaccines – Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech — have been approved for emergency use authorisation.
Harsh Vardhan also explained that work is in progress on seven other vaccines. Of the seven, three vaccines are in phase III clinical trial stage. Two vaccines are in phase I and II clinical trial stages and the remaining two are in advanced pre-clinical stage he said according to PTI.