India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 and priority will be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers, the government said on Saturday.

The decision was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19 situation and vaccine preparedness.

“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 January 16, 2021,” a government statement said.

After healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore, it added.

“Emergency Use Authorisation or Accelerated Approval has been granted by the National Regulator for two vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) which have established safety and immunogenicity,” the government said.

 There are 2,24,190 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which constitutes 2.16 per cent of the total caseload so far of over 1.04 crore, according to the latest Health Ministry data. More than 1.5 lakh people have died so far. PTI

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