India requires a total of 6.6 crore doses of coronavirus vaccines to inoculate healthcare and frontline workers, and has secured sufficient quantities, a top government official said on Wednesday.
"6.6 crores doses of vaccines are required for healthcare and frontline workers (HCWs/FLWs). Sixty million (six crore) doses along with some buffer stock. Sufficient quantities of vaccine and logistics have been secured for HCWs and FLWs," said Niti Aayog Member V.K. Paul.
Two vaccines—Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin—have been approved for restricted emergency use. They will first be offered to one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers for free. These are two-dose vaccines.
"All preparations are on-track to roll-out the vaccination. It is possible to go into implementations reasonably soon, in coming days," Paul said. The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced that the vaccination drive will be rolled out from January 13.
Expanding more on government's decisions, he said that sufficient quantities of syringes and other logistics have already been provided to the states and UTs for the next six months and beyond.
Besides these three crore health care and front line workers, 26 crore people above the age of 50, and one crore below the age of 50 with co-morbidities will be vaccinated. "We believe that we would have enough stockpile to cater to this in about 7-8 months," Paul added.
Explaining why 26 crore people above the age of 50 were chosen for the priority vaccination, he said: "78 per cent of deaths among COVID-19 cases in India occur over the age of 50 years. About 67 per cent of those who die have serious co-morbidities, like renal condition, diabetes, heart conditions."
"People above the age of 50 emerge as distinct potential priority group because you capture mortality and co-morbidities. That is what led the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) to propose this priority group," he said.