Policy switch aims to boost India’s Covid-19 vaccinations

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Coronavirus in India
A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman at an urban health centre in Ahmedabad, India

Every adult in India is now eligible for a free Covid-19 vaccine paid for by the federal government.

The changed role for the federal government ends a complex system of buying and distributing vaccines that overburdened states and created inequities in who got the shots.

The switch comes as coronavirus cases continue to drop.

India registered 53,256 new infections and 1,422 deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest in nearly three months.

That raises its totals past 29.8 million cases and 386,000 deaths, though both are likely to be undercounts.

The lagging vaccination drive, marred by delays and shortages, prompted the revised strategy.

Earlier, states and the private sector had to procure jabs themselves and provide them to younger adults.

Now, the federal government will procure 75% of all vaccines directly from manufacturers and provide them to the states for free.

The remaining 25% will be purchased by the private sector.

Only about 5% of India’s nearly 1.4 billion people are fully immunised, and experts hope the new policy will help end supply issues and make vaccines more accessible.

Meanwhile, more cities and states are easing restrictions.

Starting on Monday, parks, restaurants and bars can open in New Delhi with some restrictions on capacity and timings.

The southern state of Telangana has lifted its lockdown, while neighbouring Karnataka state eased restrictions in 16 more districts.

Even though some states have extended curfews, they have allowed shops and offices to open with limited capacity.

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