India will start vaccinating its people against Covid-19 from January 16 in the world's biggest inoculation exercise.
The vaccination drive, in a country of 1.35 billion people -- of whom over 1.4 crore people have been infected by the virus -- will give priority to healthcare and other frontline workers, estimated to be around three crore in number, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.
The decision to kick off the vaccination exercise was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the Covid-19 situation and preparedness for vaccination at a high-level meeting in New Delhi, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Modi took a detailed and comprehensive review of status of Covid management covering various issues, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
The Drug Controller General of India has already granted emergency use authorisation to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India and the indigenous Covaxin by Bharat Biotech which the Health Ministry said "have established safety and immunogenicity."
The PM was briefed about the preparedness for the roll-out of the vaccine and the exercise will be underpinned by the principles of people's participation utilising the experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunisation Programme, the statement said.
The Prime Minister was also apprised about the Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System, a digital delivery platform which will provide real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The platform will assist the programme managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate on successful completion of the vaccine schedule.
More than 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the digital platform, the Health Ministry said.
Three separate dry runs were held across the country with the last one conducted yesterday across 615 districts out of total 746 districts.