New Delhi: After expert panel of the drug regulator gave its recommendation on Saturday for the emergency use authorisation of Oxford AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin COVID-19 vaccines, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Dr. Randeep Guleria said that India was ready for a mass rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the next 10 to 14 days. 

“We will start the vaccination in a slow process. By that time more vaccines will be available,” he told told News 18. Guleria stressed on the need for a proper time table to ensure crowd management when the vaccination process commences.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) will hold a press conference on Sunday, January 3, 2021 and an announcement for the approval of the two vaccines is expected. 

The Subject Expert Committee of CDSCO had on Friday recommended emergency use authorisation of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine while on Saturday the expert panel recommended that Bharat Biotech Covid-19 vaccine applicant Covaxin be approved for restricted emergency use in India

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost to everybody all across the country

The minister told reporters during his visit at the Maternity & Child Welfare (MCW) Centre in Daryaganj while reviewing the dry run of administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The dry run for COVID-19 vaccination commenced in all States and UT governments across the country from Saturday with the objective to gear up for the smooth inoculation of COVID-19 vaccine when it is ready. 

According to Union Health Ministry, the objective is to “assess operational feasibility in the use of COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) application in a field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation”. 

The central government plans to innoculate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase which will last nearly eight months. It will be offered to healthcare workers, along with frontline and essential workers and elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with comorbidities.

In another milestone for India, it became the first country in the world to successfully isolate and culture the new, mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

The apex medical body posted on microblogging site Twitter, “UK-variant of the virus, with all signature changes, is now successfully isolated and cultured at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) from the clinical specimens collected from UK-returnees,”

According to ICMR, no other country has managed to successfully isolate and culture the UK variant. The Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was being tracked through the countrywide network of ICMR-laboratories since the epidemic began in India. Vero cell lines were used by the scientists of ICMR-NIV to culture the UK-variant of the virus, the ICMR informed.

India has so far reported 29 cases of the new UK COVID strain which has been spreading rapidly around Britain and other countries. 

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