India's Vaccine Net Widens Today, Hopes To Outpace Covid Spike: 10 Points

India began its vaccination drive on January 16 intending to inoculate 3 crore frontline workers but has struggled with hesitancy, giving out some 1.43 crore shots so far.

The government hopes to vaccinate 30 crore people by August in second phase. (File)

New Delhi: India expands its coronavirus vaccination programme today to cover people over 60 and those over 45 who have illnesses as it hopes to rein in a growing number of more infectious virus strains and a spurt in cases in some states. Registrations opened at 9 am at www.cowin.gov.in and the Aarogya Setu app and there will be walk-in vaccinations in some places as well. India began its vaccination drive on January 16 intending to inoculate 3 crore frontline workers but has struggled with hesitancy, giving out some 1.43 crore shots so far.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the vaccine today morning at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The government hopes to vaccinate 30 crore people by August in this second phase. All Chief Ministers, MPs and MLAs above 50 are expected to be vaccinated in the coming days.

  2. The government has said it will let people choose their coronavirus vaccination centres when registering, effectively letting beneficiaries pick a vaccine, unlike now, in a move that officials believe could speed up the roll-out.

  3. The two vaccines being used in the campaign will be Covishield, developed by Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca and made by the Serum Institute of India, and the home-grown Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

  4. There has been considerable reluctance among health and frontline workers to take the Covaxin shot that was approved without late-stage efficacy data. Only 11 per cent of vaccinated people have opted for the product, according to news agency Reuters.

  5. More vaccines are likely to be approved for use in the coming months, including Russia's Sputnik-V and Cadila Healthcare's ZyCov-D.

  6. Apart from vaccine hesitancy, initial glitches in CoWIN software platform had also slowed India's immunisation drive, forcing many states offline. But officials have said they have ironed out the kinks and had halted vaccinations this weekend to upgrade the platform.

  7. Private hospitals will be able to charge up to Rs 250 for one shot of the vaccine while all jabs at government facilities will be free. Hospitals will have to pay Rs 150 per dose of the vaccines. More than 10,000 private hospitals have been enlisted to give out the vaccine.

  8. The government has specified the 20 medical conditions that make those between 45 and 60 eligible for the vaccine and these include critical heart conditions, stroke, diabetes and hypertension. Beneficiaries in this age group will have to provide a doctor's note.

  9. India, which has reported the second-highest number of cases after the United States at 1.1 crore, saw 16,752 new infections in the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed. Cases have spiked in recent days in states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

  10. The coronavirus pandemic, which reached India last January after emerging in China's Wuhan in late 2019, has killed more than 1.57 lakh people in the country so far and infected over 1.1 crore. A hasty lockdown last March that lasted for months battered the economy and exacted a heavy toll on the poor and disadvantaged.