India conducts dry run to test systems ahead of launching world’s largest immunisation drive


As India gears up to launch the world’s largest immunisation drive, almost all states and Union Territory (UT) governments, including the national capital, conducted a dry run on Saturday to assess their ability and readiness to administer Covid-19 shots to hundreds of millions of people, including many in remote corners of the country.

On the Centre’s directive, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana along with Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Gujarat were among many states and UTs who conducted a dry run for Covid-19 vaccination earlier in the day, aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for the vaccination roll-out in the health system.

The Centre had directed earlier to conduct a dry run by all state and UTs on January 2 to test the linkages between planning and implementation, and to identify the challenges.

As per the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, all states selected their particular areas and districts to hold the dry run exercise at various government medical college, hospitals, medical centres and the community health centres.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organization (WHO), officials said, supported the drive.

In the drive, the medical officer in-charge identified several beneficiaries (healthcare workers).

The states and union territories have been asked to ensure that the data of beneficiaries is uploaded on Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring the delivery of the vaccine.

Similar exercise for the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccine was conducted in various states and UTs separately on different occasions in December.

While visiting one of dry run centres, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers would be given free vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive.

“In the first phase of vaccination, free vaccine will be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers,” Vardhan said in a tweet.

He, however, added, that the details of how the remaining 27 crore priority beneficiaries will be vaccinated till July is still being finalised.

The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the immunisation drive. The vaccine will be administered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers, and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 with co-morbidities.

With 20,036 new coronavirus infections and 256 deaths in the past 24 hours, India’s overall tally climbed up to 1,02,86,709 and the death toll 1,48,994 on Friday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Till now, 98,83,461 patients have recovered. Currently, there are 2,54,254 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 96.08 per cent and the fatality rate 1.45 per cent.

A total of 17,31,11,694 samples have been tested for Covid-19 till now. Of these, 10,62,420 samples were tested on Thursday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit state. Over 70 per cent of the daily new cases are getting reported from Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.

The Drug Controller General of India ((DCGI) is currently analysing data submitted by the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Bharat Biotech, which is making indigenous vaccine in collaboration with ICMR. The expert panel will convene a meeting on this on Friday.

The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore persons in the first phase. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 with comorbidities.

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