World's Largest Inoculation Drive in India, There Will Be No Shortage of Vaccines: Harsh Vardhan

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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday the government has procured enough vaccines against the coronavirus and there would be no shortage.

In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, Vardhan said India is running the world’s largest vaccination drive and it will be scaled up exponentially now.

Lauding the contribution of scientists for developing the vaccines, the Union minister said things have steadily improved on the vaccine hesitancy issue. “We have used all possible means to remove vaccine hesitancy.”

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking the indigenously developed Covaxin should remove all doubts that people have about its safety and side-effects. People should take the vaccine without any hesitancy, he said.

Earlier in the day, the minister said in a tweet said that he would take the shot on Tuesday and appealed to all those aged 60 and above and aged 45 and above having specified co-morbidities to immediately take the vaccine. “Don’t have any doubt about the vaccine. It has close to no side-effects. No case of any death due to the vaccine has come to light so far. Any death which occurs a few days after receiving the jab, cannot be linked to vaccination because each such death is being scientifically probed,” he said.

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“Till Yesterday, 1.35 crore vaccine shots had been administered to healthcare workers. We have strategised our vaccination drive with healthcare workers being on top,” Vardhan told CNN-News18, adding the targeted group will be much bigger now.

Regarding the prices of vaccines, the Union minister said the jabs have been capped at Rs 250 for private hospitals after much deliberation.

When asked about complaints from private sector over the pricing issue, he said he was not aware any concerns. He said, so far, there was no plan to give vaccines into open market.

Vardhan further said there are 15-20 vaccines in various stages of development. “There will be many more vaccines available in India as time passes.”

He said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has nothing to do with any new strain found in some countries. The Union minister said he was constantly in touch with state governments where cases are on the rise. Stating that COVID-appropriate behaviour is essential to beat the virus, he said, “We will be through the pandemic very soon.”