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India to Conduct Second Vaccine Dry Run Across All Districts on Jan 8; UK Variant Cases Climb to 73

A health official prepares a vaccine kit as she takes part in dry run or a mock drill for Covid-19 vaccine delivery at a primary health centre in Chennai on January 2, 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

A health official prepares a vaccine kit as she takes part in dry run or a mock drill for Covid-19 vaccine delivery at a primary health centre in Chennai on January 2, 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

Health minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled hold a virtual meeting with counterparts from all states and Union Territories on the eve of the dry run.

India will conduct another dry run of the Covid-19 vaccination process across all districts on January 8, the health ministry said on Wednesday as the country prepares to roll out the first shots to priority groups within 10 days. Health minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled hold a virtual meeting with counterparts from all states and Union Territories on the eve of the dry run.

“The entire planning of the vaccination drive, including beneficiary registration, microplanning and vaccination at the planned session site, will be tested under the leadership of District Collector/District Magistrate. The dry run will also familiarize the State, District, Block and Hospital level officers on all aspects of COVID-19 roll out,” a press statement by the health ministry said.

The statement added that the dry run will be conducted across more than 700 districts in all states and Union Territories, except Uttar Pradesh and Haryana which will be conducting the exercise on January 5 and January 7, respectively.

This will be the second dry run after the January 2 drill when mock vaccinations were carried out at 285 session sites across 125 districts to assess the preparedness of authorities to administer shots to hundreds of millions of people. The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the vaccination drive, including 1 crore healthcare workers, 2 crore frontline and essential workers, and 27 crore elderly people, mostly above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.

India has approved Covid-19 vaccines by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech for emergency use with the new and more infectious virus variant from United Kingdom keeping healthcare authorities around the world in tenterhooks.

On Wednesday, India counted two more persons infected by the new strain, taking the total number of people in the country infected by the variant to 73. "The total number of cases infected with the new strain of the novel coronavirus first reported in the UK now stands at 73," the health ministry said. All these people have been kept in single room isolation in designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments, it added.

Of the 73 cases, the mutated UK strain was detected in eight samples at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi, in 20at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, in one at National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani (near Kolkata), in 30 at the National Institute of Virology in Pune, in three at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB)in Hyderabad and 11 were sequenced at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru. The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by several countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.


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