New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday stated that COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost across the country. The Health Minister made the statement while talking to the media after reviewing the dry run of administering the COVID-19 vaccine at Maternity & Child Welfare (MCW) Centre in Daryaganj.

Asked if the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost, like in Delhi, Vardhan replied that “not just in Delhi, it will be free across the country.”

The Health Minister tweeted, ”In 1st phase of COVID-19 vaccination free  vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include 1 crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers. Details of how further 27 crore priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised.”

Vardhan also reviewed the dry run of administering the COVID-19 vaccine at Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) hospital in Delhi today. In Delhi, the drive is being conducted at three locations — the Daryaganj primary health centre, the government-run Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and the private Venkateshwara hospital, he added.

Except for giving the actual vaccine, every procedure is being followed during the drill, Vardhan further said. Notably, the coronavirus vaccine is slated to be rolled out soon as the one developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca has been recommended by an expert panel, tasked with vetting Covid-19 vaccine proposals, and forwarded to the Drug Controller General of India for approval.

“The Drug Controller General of India will soon give its recommendation on the applications,” Vardhan said. According to top government sources, the vaccination process will begin from January 6.

The dry run is being conducted by all the states and Union Territories from Saturday. Vaccination drill is being conducted in all states/UTs today in 116 districts across 259 sites.

According to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), the objective of the dry run for COVID-19 vaccine introduction 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 vaccinate nearly 30 crore persons in the first phase of the immunisation drive. The vaccine will be administered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers, and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 with comorbidities.

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