India begins selecting people for priority coronavirus vaccines

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Women wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) sanitize a “pandal” or a temporary platform, ahead of Durga Puja festival, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, India, October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

MUMBAI —India’s coronavirus infections rose by another 62,212 cases over the previous day and a local media report said on Saturday that the government had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the vaccine first when it is ready.

The Times of India said that frontline health and sanitation workers, police officials and elderly people with co-morbidities will get the vaccine on priority.

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The plan, which is still in the draft stage, aims to cover 23% of the population in the first phase. The final plan is likely to be ready by end October-November, the report said.

The selected individuals will be given an estimated 600 million doses.

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Earlier this month, health minister Harsh Vardhan had said that India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July next year to inoculate about 250 million people.

Officials have said that giving the vaccine to India’s 1.3 billion people will be a mammoth exercise, likely to stretch well into 2022.

India’s cumulative tally of coronavirus infections stood at 7.43 million on Saturday, having risen by 62,212 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed.

But the number of active infections slipped below 800,000 for the first time in 1.5 months, which the ministry called a significant achievement.

India has recorded the world’s second-largest number of cases after the United States and worries have been high that there may be further spikes during the ongoing festival season.

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