New Delhi: After Serum Institute’s ‘Covishield’, a government-appointed expert panel on Saturday gave its clearance to indigenously developed Coronavirus vaccine ‘Covaxin’ for restricted emergency use in the country. However, the final call by national drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is still awaited and the vaccine rollout will begin thereafter. Here’s what we know so far.Also Read - Omicron vs Delta: The Battle Of Coronavirus Mutants | All You Need to Know

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Talking to news channel News18, AIIMS Chief Dr. Randeep Guleria on Saturday said that the mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccine is expected in the coming 10-14 days. “We will start the vaccination in a slow process. By that time more vaccines will be available,” he told the news channel. He also emphasized on the importance of ensuring crowd management when the vaccination drive finally begins. “We also need to ensure that the vaccines are not getting wasted because of the cold storages. This is why the dry run helps,” he added. Also Read - UP Govt Issues Guidelines For all Districts As Omicron Threat Looms | Check SOPs Here

Free vaccine for all?

Initially, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that COVID-19 vaccine shots would be free of cost across the country. “Not just in Delhi, it (vaccine) will be free across the country,” he said speaking to reporters. However, later he asserted that one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers would be given free vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive, and details of how the rest will be vaccinated is being worked out.

Free vaccine for Delhiites

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to people in the national capital for free once it arrives, and asserted that the city government has made preparations for the vaccination drive.

Nationwide dry run of Coronavirus vaccine

As India gears up to launch the world’s largest immunisation drive, almost all states and Union Territory (UT) governments, including the national capital, on Saturday conducted a dry run at 285 session sites spread across 125 districts to assess the ability and readiness of authorities to administer Covid-19 shots to hundreds of millions of people, including many in remote corners of the country.

Ahead of the actual vaccination drive, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) conducted the nationwide mock drill at 285 session sites to test the end-to-end planned operations and the mechanism that has been set up to ensure smooth conduct of the Covid-19 vaccination.

India successfully cultures UK coronavirus variant

India has successfully cultured the new ‘more infectious’ coronavirus strain, which had originated in United Kingdom, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Saturday. The country put in place a pro-active and preventive strategy to detect and contain the variant. So far, the new variant has been detected in 29 UK returnees through genome sequencing.

First phase vaccination drive

The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of drive in the next six to eight months. It will be offered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.