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India's top health research body hopes to have whole country vaccinated by December

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:03, June 02, 2021

NEW DELHI, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Head of India's top health research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday that he was hopeful that the whole country will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December this year.

"There is no shortage of vaccines. This (shortage) is what you feel if you want to be vaccinated within a month (but) our population is four times that of the United States. Need to have some patience. By mid-July, or early August, we'll have enough doses for a crore (10 million) a day," Bhargava said.

"By December we hope to have the whole country vaccinated."

India is currently administrating two made-in-India vaccines - Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech - to inoculate its population.

Though consignments of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines have arrived in India, they are yet to be rolled out.

Bhargava said while increased testing and strict containment have helped control the second wave, however it was unwise to rely on such measures as they are not "a sustainable solution."

"We have to find a mechanism on how we have to ease our containment or lockdown and that has to be done very gradually and very slowly," he said.

"Re-opening revolves around three pillars - positivity rate of less than 5 percent for a week, at least 70 percent of vulnerable individuals (elderly and those over 45 with co-morbidities) must be vaccinated and community must continue to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour."

Last week senior minister Prakash Javadekar said the country will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.

India's states have been flagging the shortage of vaccines insisting they do not have sufficient stock, particularly for the 18-44 age group.

The Indian health ministry said on Tuesday that 127,510 new COVID-19 cases and 2,795 related deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours.

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