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Covid-19: Vaccines for all above 45 from April 1

Prakash Javadekar said the Union cabinet has accepted the recommendations of a national task force and scientists to open the vaccination campaign to everybody

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 24.03.21, 02:57 AM

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Everyone above 45 years may register for Covid-19 vaccines from April 1, the Centre announced on Tuesday, expanding the government campaign’s pool of potential recipients to an estimated 347 million people or about 25 per cent of India’s population.

The Union cabinet has accepted the recommendations of a national task force and scientists to open the Covid-19 vaccination campaign to everybody above 45 years of age, Prakash Javadekar, the Union information and broadcasting minister, said.


“We request all eligible people to register from April 1 and get vaccinated. All above 45 should take the vaccination as early as possible,” the Union minister said, adding that India had sufficient quantities of vaccines.

The campaign, currently vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers, everyone above 60 years and those between 45 and 60 with certain chronic health disorders, has already administered around 40 million first doses and 8 million second doses.

The health ministry’s initial plan to vaccinate 10 million healthcare workers, 20 million frontline workers and 270 million people aged 50 and above or afflicted with chronic health disorders would require 600 million doses.

The decision to extend vaccinations to all between 45 and 50 years means the plan now is to vaccinate roughly 347 million people, which will require roughly 100 million extra doses, health experts tracking the campaign said.

“This would be about 25 per cent of India’s population — it would be great if India is able to complete this by August or September as originally intended,” said Giridhar Babu, professor of epidemiology at the Indian Institute of Public Health, Bangalore.

The campaign’s pace needs to be synchronised with both the quantities of vaccines available and the rate at which recipients take them, an adviser to the Centre said. Opening up the campaign too fast could raise the risk of stock-outs, and a poor rate of acceptance could lead to wastage.

Since the campaign’s start on January 16, the Centre has provided over 74.7 million doses of vaccines to the states, of which about 50 million doses had been administered till Tuesday. India last week administered on average about 2 million doses a day and on Monday logged over 3.2 million doses.

India is currently using two vaccines — Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in the country by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, a home-grown vaccine from Bharat Biotech. Health officials say the government has been assured a supply of around 480 million doses of Covishield and 120 million doses of Covaxin by August.

At a sustained current pace of around 3 million doses a day, it would take more than three months to cover 100 million people and the revised target of 347 million could stretch into early 2022.

However, health officials and experts are hoping more vaccines will be approved in India during the year. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and a DNA vaccine made by the Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila are under clinical trials in the country. More than 50 countries have approved Sputnik V.

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