World

Covid-19: India vaccinates more than 190,000 people on first day

NEW DELHI: India's Covid-19 vaccination drive had a good start with more than 190,000 people receiving their first jabs and no one hospitalised for major side effects on the first day, its Health Ministry said, but there have been glitches to the Co-Win app being used to coordinate the campaign.

Front-line workers such as hospital staff, people over 50 and those deemed to be at high risk from pre-existing medical conditions are on the shortlist to receive the vaccines.

"We have got encouraging and satisfactory feedback results on the first day," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

"This vaccine will indeed be a 'Sanjeevani' (life saver)" in the fight against the virus, he added.

The Health Ministry said "no case of post-vaccination hospitalisation" had been reported, although local media said a security guard at a Delhi hospital developed an allergic reaction.

Meanwhile, the Co-Win app developed by the government is supposed to alert healthcare workers who are first in line to get shots and allow officials to monitor and manage the entire drive.

But many health workers who were to receive the vaccines did not get the message on Saturday, said a senior official with the Health Department of the state of Maharashtra.

"We were planning to vaccinate 28,500 people on Saturday but could do only 18,328 because of glitches in the Co-Win app," the official told Reuters on condition on anonymity as the details are not public yet.

In the state of Odisha, officials said they were forced to use printouts because of issues with the app.

"We also went with our plan B and contacted people to be vaccinated directly offline," Mr Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, director of Health Services, said.

The authorities have given emergency-use approval for two vaccines - Oxford-AstraZeneca and the home-grown Covaxin, which has yet to complete its Phase 3 trials.

Leading scientists and doctors have called on the authorities to release efficacy data about Covaxin to boost confidence about the vaccine.

Covaxin recipients on Saturday had to sign a consent form that stated its "clinical efficacy... is yet to be established".

India has the world's second-largest caseload with more than 10.5 million cases and 152,000 deaths. - AFP, REUTERS

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