States will get 165 million doses of Covid vaccines by Thursday

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  The Centre announced that all 165 million doses of Covishield and Covaxin for which it signed purchase orders with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech will reach the states by Thursday, two days before the actual inoculations begin. 

Vaccinations will begin with healthcare workers followed by frontline workers in the first phase. Approximately 1 crore health care workers, approximately 2 crore front line workers and around 27 crore prioritized age groups will be covered in the first phase of vaccination.  

“At many places in the world, more than one vaccine is being administered, but, presently, in no country, vaccine recipients have the option of choosing the shots,” Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said to a query on whether there will be an option to choose from the two vaccines.

Both vaccines will be given in two doses 28 days apart even if the accelerated approvals given to the two companies have kept a flexibility of higher duration. “The inoculation effect takes 14 days to develop after the administration of the two dosages. Hence, it is imperative to maintain Covid appropriate behaviour before and after one gets vaccinated,” said Bhushan. 

On Monday, SII and Bharat Biotech started dispatching consignments to regional stores across the country. Within Tuesday afternoon, about 54.72 lakh doses of vaccine reached the states.  The Centre has procured Covishield and Covaxin at Rs 200 and Rs 295 per dose, excluding taxes, from the manufacturers.

Covaxin was being purchased at a higher price because Bharat Biotech was also giving 16.5 lakh doses — out of 55 million doses for which the purchase deal was inked —  free of cost and with that the total cost per dose came down to Rs 206, Bhushan clarified.

V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog stressed that there should be no doubt about the safety of the vaccines, adding that the two vaccines were tested on thousands of people and the side effects are negligible.   “There is no risk of any significance.”