NEW DELHI (AFP) – India aims to begin vaccinating its 1.3 billion people against coronavirus from Saturday, a colossal and complex task compounded by safety worries, shaky infrastructure and public scepticism.
In one of the world’s biggest rollouts, the planet’s second-most populous nation hopes to inoculate 300 million people – equal almost to the entire US population – by July.
First to get one of two vaccines granted “emergency approval” will be 30 million health and other frontline workers, followed by around 270 million people aged over 50 or deemed high-risk all over the vast nation.
About 150,000 staff in 700 districts have been specially trained, and India has held several national dry runs involving mock transportation of vaccines and dummy injections.
Authorities will use the experience from holding elections in the world’s biggest democracy, and from regular child immunisation programmes for polio and tuberculosis.
But in an enormous, impoverished nation with often shoddy transport networks and one of the world’s worst-funded healthcare systems, the undertaking is still daunting.