Updated: February 16, 2021 7:10:55 am
The country will begin vaccinating its third priority group of people — those who are 50 years and above — in two or three weeks, but the crucial decision on whether the vaccine will be administered free of cost to this set of 26 crore people is being discussed by the expert group, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.
During an official briefing, Harsh Vardhan reiterated that as earlier pointed out by the Prime Minister, the decision on administering the vaccine free of cost to the priority group of 26 crore 50-plus people will be taken after consulting with the states.
“As far as the intention of the government is considered, the Finance Minister, in her Budget speech, promised to keep Rs 35,000 crore for vaccination… she said that if there is a need the government might consider (increasing) it further,” Harsh Vardhan said. “The strategy of (vaccinating) 26 crore (people) is being deliberated upon by the expert group. As soon as the decision on these aspects is taken (it will be communicated)…” Harsh Vardhan replied when asked whether vaccine for the third priority group will be administered free of cost.
On Monday, India crossed the 85-lakh mark in administering the vaccine – 98,118 beneficiaries were given the second dose.
Harsh Vardhan said the next priority group will be vaccinated from March. “In another two or three weeks we will start the process of giving the vaccines to the third major group – the group constituting 26 crore (people) who are above the age of 50.”
Harsh Vardhan also emphasised that no final decision has been taken on allowing Covid-19 vaccine in the private market, as the two vaccines have been cleared by the regulator for restricted use.
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