India is gearing up for one of the largest mass vaccination exercises in the world starting Saturday.
The South Asian country plans to inoculate some 300 million people, or more than 20% of its 1.3 billion population, against Covid-19 in the first phase of the exercise.
Indian airlines have started delivering the first doses of vaccines to Delhi and other major cities, including Kolkata, Ahmedabad and tech hub Bengaluru, tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier this week.
Priority for the shots will be given to health-care and other frontline workers — an estimated 30 million people. That would be followed by those above 50 years of age and other younger, high-risk individuals.
The rollout will involve close collaboration between the central government and states.
India has also developed a digital portal called Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. It will provide real-time information on “vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries,” according to the health ministry.
“India’s expertise in vaccine manufacturing and experience with mass immunization campaigns has prepared it well for ‘phase 1’ vaccinations set to begin this weekend,” Akhil Bery, South Asia analyst at Eurasia Group, wrote in a report this week.
“India has a long history of immunization campaigns, including its Universal Immunization Program that inoculates 55 million a year, and will rely on this expertise to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” he added.