India World

India opens Covid-19 vaccination to wider population

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received his first coronavirus jab as the country opened its vaccination programme for the wider population.

India launched its vaccination drive on 16 January, but it was limited to healthcare workers and frontline staff.

Now, people over 60 and those who are between 45 and 59 but have other illnesses can get vaccinated.

State-run hospitals will offer free jabs but people can also pay at private facilities to get vaccinated.

Mr Modi, who’s 70 years old, was among the first to get his vaccine shot on Monday. He was administered a jab of Covaxin, an indigenously developed vaccine.

The government aims to cover 300 million “priority people” by the end of July.

But the pace of vaccination has been slow – so far only 14 million doses have been given and experts say unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed.

The country’s drugs regulator has given the green light to two vaccines – one developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University (Covishield) and one by Indian firm Bharat Biotech (Covaxin).

Since the pandemic began, India has confirmed more than 11 million cases and over 157,000 deaths.