Covid-19 vaccine updates: US to start vaccination drive today; Bahrain approves China vaccine


The United States is set to begin its coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination drive from Monday with doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine set to reach all hospitals and other sites. The United States, which tops the list of the worst-hit countries from the pandemic, has so far registered over 16.7 million cases and 306,459 deaths, according to figures.

India, on the other hand has issued operational guidelines to all states and Union Territories (UTs) with regard to vaccine distribution. While Pakistan, which is witnessing a surge in coronavirus re-infections at various health centres has increased its funds allocated for purchasing vaccines from $150 million to $ 250 million.

Here are the latest updates on the Covid-19 vaccine development:

1. The United States will begin its vaccination program from today. Senior government officials, including those who work in close proximity to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other top leaders would be administered doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as soon as possible. This comes after a top official told news agency AFP that the pharmaceutical firm’s vaccine would reach hospitals and other sites across the United States.

2. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that first of the many freezer-packed vaccine vials have arrived in the country. But he urged all Canadians to continue wearing masks, avoid gatherings and download a government based application that allows users to know if they have come in contact with an infected person. Recently, the government had amended its contract with American based pharmaceutical firm Pfizer so that it could deliver up to 249,000 vaccine doses this month.

3. In India, the Union health ministry has sent a set of operational guidelines to states and union territories (UTs) regarding the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine once it is available. Some of the guidelines include administering vaccine doses on priority basis to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 50 years of age, using a digitised platform to track enlisted beneficiaries for vaccination and vaccinating 100 such people per session.

4. Mumbai’s civic body, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has decided to develop a real time monitoring Covid-19 mobile application to regulate the vaccination process for the city’s population of 20 million. Suresh Kakani, the civic body’s additional commissioner, who also heads its task force, said that the application will have all updated data which will be connected to the BMC’s systems. The users will have to link their Aadhaar number and mobile number and alert messages will also be sent to them regarding the next vaccine, he added.

5. The Imran Khan-led Pakistan government has, meanwhile, increased the funds allocated for buying Covid-19 vaccine from $150 million to $250 million. Parliamentary Secretary on National Health Services (NHS) Nausheen Hamid told news agency PTI that delivery of the vaccine would start by the end of the first quarter of 2021 with first priority given to frontline health workers attending to Covid-19 patients and people above 65 years of age.

6. Bahrain on Sunday had approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine as it had participated in phase III clinical trials, in which more than 7,700 volunteers signed up. Earlier, Bahrain had authorized the emergency use of the vaccine, which was provided to frontline workers who were in contact with the infected patients.

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