Country of 1.3 billion people hopes to vaccinate 300 million citizens by AugustCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage A health worker shows Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai, India. Photograph: Rajanish Kakade/AP India has begun one of the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination programmes, the first major developing country to roll out the vaccine, marking the beginning of an effort to immunise more than 1.3 billion people. The first dose was administered to a health worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, after the prime minister, Narendra Modi, kickstarted the campaign with a national televised speech. India cases “We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines”. It is not clear if Modi, 70, has been given the vaccine like other world leaders as an example of its safety. His government has said politicians will not be considered priority groups in the first phase of the rollout. India has registered more than 10.5m coronavirus cases, the second highest in the world, and 151,000 deaths. The government has been preparing for the vaccine rollout for weeks, and over the past few days shipments were sent to more than 3,000 sites set up for injections. The Indian health ministry has drawn up plans for 300 million people, almost the equivalent to the population of the US, to be vaccinated by August. Frontline healthcare workers, police and the army have been given priority, with those over 50 and with co-morbidity conditions to follow, all free of cost. Maharashtra, home to Mumbai and the state worst hit by coronavirus, plans to vaccinate 50,000 healthcare workers on the first day of the vaccine rollout. Across the vast country, more than 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 team members have been trained for the rollout. Large-scale trial runs have been conducted in at least four states and authorities have readied 29,000 cold storage units to transport and hold the vaccine safely. Two vaccines have been given emergency approval for India’s immunisation programme; the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, known in India as Covishield, and a domestic product, Covaxin, developed by the pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech. The approval of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, which was co-sponsored by an Indian government body, has proved controversial. Covaxin is still in phase 3 human trials and a full dataset on its efficacy has not been released or peer-reviewed, unlike the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which have been authorised in the UK and the US. India’s drugs controller general, VG Somani, insisted Covaxin was “100% safe”. default The government has ordered 5.5m doses of Covaxin and 11m doses of Covishield. Boxes of Covishield were dispatched bearing the message “may all be free from disease”. Significantly for ease of availability and low cost, both vaccines will be produced domestically. The Serum Institute of India, one of the world’s biggest vaccine makers, has already produced and stockpiled around 50m doses of Covishield. The institute has billions in pre-orders from countries around the world also desperate for the vaccine. The Indian government is negotiating how much stock to release for export, given fears that it could lead to a domestic shortage. The government faces another challenge of growing vaccine opposition in India. According to a survey of more than 8,000 people carried out by Local Circles, 69% of Indians are hesitant about receiving the vaccine.