India's COVID-19 vaccination drive to begin on Jan 16

Bangalore Airport workers transfer carton boxes containing vials of Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India in Bangalore, India, Jan 12, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

India's federal government said on Saturday that the COVID-19 vaccination drive will begin in the country on Jan 16.

The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the status of COVID-19 in the country and the preparedness for the vaccination.

"The prime minister was also apprised on the three phases of dry runs having been conducted across the country. The third dry run was conducted yesterday (Friday) across 615 districts covering 4,895 session sites over 30 states," a statement issued by India's federal health ministry said.

"After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc., the COVID-19 vaccination will start from 16th January 2021."

"The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine will provide priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who are estimated to be around 30 million, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 270 million," the ministry said.