New Delhi, October 21: Once developed, India will provide the vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19) to 30 million people, including frontline health workers, in the first phase, said a report by Hindustan Times on Wednesday, quoting a senior official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The first phase of vaccination for COVID-19 has been tentatively scheduled between January and June 2021, the report added. Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India Developing Intranasal Vaccines for COVID-19; What Is an Intranasal Vaccine? Updates on Anti-Coronavirus Intranasal Vaccines’ Development.

Speaking to the newspaper, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan 7 million doctors and paramedics will be vaccinated in the first phase when a vaccine is available. "We have the cold chain, vials, syringes and everything," Bhushan said, adding that the infrastructure was already in place to vaccinate 30 million people. "And we think if the present trials proceeded according to plan, and succeed, then the number of doses that will become available from January to July 2021 would be sufficient to immunize the priority list persons," he added. Coronavirus Live Tracker in India.

Bhushan pointed out India has been running a successful Universal Immunisation Programme for the past 50 years, under which nearly 25 million children and adults are vaccinated each year. "As a result, we have more than 28,000 cold storages already existing across the country that are used to store several vaccines administered under the programme. All these facilities have temperature trackers that help upload information in real-time on our centralized server," he said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly said that the central government had no strategy for public access to a COVID-19 vaccine. Last month, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), had sought to know whether the Indian government would have sufficient financial resources to buy and distribute COVID-19 drugs as part of the mass vaccination plan.

Poonawalla's SII is the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines and is conducting trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates like the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. In his Independence Day speech on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that mass production of the vaccine for COVID-19 would begin in India once scientists give their nod, and a roadmap was ready to ensure it reaches everyone in the country in the shortest possible time.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 21, 2020 10:31 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website