India is set to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16.

Weeks before the first COVID-19 infection was identified in India, the country is on it’s way to vaccinate millions of frontline workers from January 16. Vaccines would first reach four major depots in Karnal, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, with all States having at least one State-level regional vaccine store.

Covishield and Covaxin, the two vaccines which are currently available, will be administered in two doses, with a gap of 28 days between each dose. The effectiveness will begin 14 days after the second dose. Citizens are expected to stick to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour during and after the vaccination process.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are live updates:

Tardy hunt for UK variant of virus

Though the Union Health Ministry has confirmed the presence of 96 instances of the ‘UK variant’ — a form of the Sars-Cov2 associated with high infections — in India, it is yet to significantly begin looking for the variant in those without such history. So far these variants have only been identified in those with international travel history after November.

Scientists associated with the sequencing exercise, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu that it was “highly unlikely” the variant wasn’t locally present in India in those without travel history and that not enough was being done to actively look for it.

Identifying such variants is important because in the event of a rapid spike in cases, it can be analysed if certain variants are responsible. It would also be necessary to grow these viruses in the lab so that scientists can then design appropriate tools to make diagnostic devices or even improve vaccine development efforts.

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Emotional moment for Serum Institute of India team, says Poonawalla

Boxes of Covishield, the vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India, has left for multiple locations across India, Mr. Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII, tweeted on Tuesday. “An emotional moment for the team at Serum Institute as the first shipments finally leave,” it said.

Adar Poonawalla tweeted: “An emotional moment for the team at @SerumInstIndia as the first shipments of #Covishield finally leave for multiple locations across India.” Photo: Twitter/@adarpoonawalla 

 

The Centre has procured 11 million doses at ₹200 a dose. Two doses, 28 days apart, are to be given to 30 crore healthcare workers and others in priority groups identified by States. As part of the government-sponsored inoculation of health workers, 5.5 million doses of Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech, are also being procured.

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