New Delhi: With India gearing up for the world’s biggest vaccination drive, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers would be given free vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive.Also Read - India Successfully Cultures New UK Coronavirus Strain, Says ICMR; Nationwide Dry Run Held in 125 Districts, 285 Sites | Highlights

“In the first phase of vaccination, free vaccine will be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers,” Vardhan said in a tweet on Saturday. Also Read - Coronavirus Vaccine: How Much Does it Cost? Who Will Get First? Read What AIIMS Chief Says

However, he added that the details of how the remaining 27 crore priority beneficiaries will be vaccinated till July is getting finalised. Also Read - Govt Allows Import & Export of COVID-19 Vaccine Without Any Value Limitation

Earlier in the day, Harsh Vardhan on Saturday 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,” Harsh Vardhan said while speaking to reporters.

The health minister was asked if the coronavirus vaccine will be provided for free, after he visit a hospital in Delhi, where he went to review the dry run of vaccination drive.

The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore persons in the first phase of the immunisation drive. The vaccine will be administered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers, and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 with comorbidities.

The comment is significant, given the fact that India has recorded the second highest numbers of corona infections after the United States.

On Saturday, authorities were conducting a mega drill at 259 sites in all states and union territories to help officials practise how to manage vaccine supply, storage and logistics, including cold chain management.

In Delhi, the drive is being conducted at three locations – the Daryaganj primary health centre, the government-run Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, and the private Venkateshwara hospital.

A video conference was held under the chairmanship of the Delhi health secretary on Friday for conducting a dry run for COVID vaccination at three selected sites, one each in Central District, Shahdara District and South West district, according to the latest health bulletin.

From installing freezers to setting up cold chain equipment, arrangements are being made at a Delhi government hospital here for storing the vaccine, whenever it arrives.

The Delhi government is fully prepared to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccine to 51 lakh priority category persons in the city in the first phase of vaccination, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said on December 24.

These persons include the healthcare workers, frontline workers, people aged above 50 and those below 50 years but with co-morbidities