As India on Saturday began the dry run for COVID-19 vaccinations across states and union territories, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the coronavirus vaccine will be provided free of cost in the national capital. On being asked about the same, Jain said, "Yes, medicines and treatment are being provided for free in Delhi, anyway."
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers would be given free vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive.
"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.
He, however, added, that the details of how the remaining 27 crore priority beneficiaries will be vaccinated till July is getting finalised.
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.
Earlier in the day, the Health Minister had said that the vaccine will be free across the country. "Not just in Delhi, it will be free across the country," Vardhan said when asked for the government's position on the issue.
Earlier on Thursday, the Centre had stated that the activity was set to be conducted by all state and union territory administrations on January 2 to test the linkages between planning and implementation, and identify challenges.
"Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Shahdara, Urban Primary Health Centre, Daryaganj, and Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka, are the three sites in Delhi which have been selected for the dry run of the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in the national capital," a senior official said on Saturday.
A video conference was also 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 southwest 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.