India starts free Covid-19 vaccine campaign for all adults

The country is witnessing a surge of infections

A man receives a Covid-19 vaccine in the Indian city of Hyderabad on Friday, as part of the government's booster campaign. AFP
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India on Friday launched a drive to provide free booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines to all adults.

The programme, part of a series of events spearheaded by the government to celebrate 75 years of independence from British rule, will run for the next 75 days, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.

The campaign comes at a time when the country is witnessing a surge of coronavirus infections.

India logged more than 20,000 new cases and as many as 47 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing the tally of those infected to more than 43 million and the number of deaths to 526,000.

The doses, to be offered to the 18-59 age group at government-run vaccination centres until September 30, are aimed at increasing the uptake of a precautionary vaccine, the Health Ministry said.

Free doses until now were only offered to those aged 60 and older.

India’s vaccination coverage exceeded 1.99 billion on Friday.

More than 96 per cent of its adult population has had a first dose and 87 per cent have had two.

But less than 8 per cent of the target population of 770 million in the 18-59 age group have been administered the booster shot.

The country’s active caseload stands at nearly 140,000, the Health Ministry says.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 10:00 AM