06 Feb 2021: India will begin vaccinating those above 50 from March
Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan informed the Lok Sabha on Friday that those aged 50 and above will get the coronavirus vaccine from March.
The estimated 27 crore-strong group also includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers of all states.
India began its inoculation drive on January 16, with healthcare personnel, and later started administering doses to frontline workers.
Statement: Vaccination of 'corona warriors' happening swiftly
Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the target of the first phase was to vaccinate one crore healthcare workers of both government and private facilities. The exercise is happening swiftly.
"The second phase, meant to inoculate two crore frontline workers, has already begun in many states from February 2," he said.
He revealed that nearly five million people have already been vaccinated.
Fact: Difficult to give a date: Dr. Harsh Vardhan
"The process (vaccinating those above 50) will begin in any week of March. It's difficult to give an exact date, but it will begin at any time of the month — the third or fourth week of March," he said in the Parliament.
Vaccines: Three other vaccines have reached third phase
The minister reminded that his cabinet colleague, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has earmarked Rs. 35,000 crore for vaccination. The amount will be increased if needed.
Besides the two vaccines — Covishield and COVAXIN — that have been granted emergency use authorization, seven other vaccines are also being developed, he said.
Of the seven, three have advanced to the third phase.
Request: India has sent vaccines to 15 countries
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also said that India received vaccine requests from 22 countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Egypt, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Morocco, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa, and the UAE.
The Pacific Island countries have also placed a request for vaccines.
India has already sent doses to 15 countries, the minister revealed.
What happened: Bedlam forced health minister to take merely two questions
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader made the remarks during the question hour that had to be ended after only 15 minutes due to chaos orchestrated by the Opposition.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan managed to take just two supplementary questions.
Evidently, in the week gone by, the Opposition didn't allow productive business hours in the Lok Sabha over the farm laws and the ongoing agitation.
Details: Lok Sabha convened at 4 pm, was quickly adjourned
Yesterday, Lok Sabha convened at 4 pm, after being adjourned a day earlier. But as soon as the proceedings began, members from Congress, DMK, and Left parties rushed to the Well, raising slogans against the government.
The sloganeering prompted Speaker Om Birla to adjourn the House till 6 pm.
When the House reassembled in the evening, parliamentarians again created a ruckus, sparking another adjournment.