Jan 16, 2021 - World

India rolls out COVID-19 vaccination campaign to its 1.3 billion people

Picture of a medical worker in India vaccinating a doctor
Photo: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images

India on Saturday started inoculating medical workers, beginning the country's massive coronavirus vaccination campaign to address the world's second-largest outbreak.

The state of play: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to vaccinate 300 million health care and frontline workers by July. But it could take years to vaccinate the nation's 1.3 billion people, per NPR.

  • 300,000 people in India are expected to receive the vaccine on Saturday, The New York Times reports.

The big picture: India granted emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and one from the state-run institute Bharat Biotech.

  • But, but, but: Bharat Biotch's Covaxin vaccine is still in stage 3 clinical trials in India and the final results are yet to be released.
  • A peer-reviewed study published in December said the AstraZeneca vaccine was about 62% effective.

What they're saying: "We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability," Modi said in a televised speech on Saturday, per CNBC.

  • Modi also told citizens not to believe any "rumors about the safety of the vaccines."

By the numbers: India has reported more than 10,542,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 152,000 deaths as of Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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