With the COVID-19 curve showing no signs of easing across the country, the Centre on Monday announced that the third phase of the coronavirus vaccination drive will open for all persons above age 18 from 1 May.
The decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During the meeting, Modi said that the government had been working hard for over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible time. He added that India is vaccinating people at a world record pace and will continue this with even greater momentum.
The government issued a press release stating that the decision was taken as part of the 'liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination'.
Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 percent doses to state governments and in the open market.
Manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for 50 percent supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before 1 May, 2021, an official statement said.
Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.
Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for entities other than those coming through the central government channel.
The private vaccination providers would need to transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and the eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, that is everyone above the age of 18, the statement added.
This comes as India on Monday recorded 2,73,810 new coronavirus cases, an unprecedented figure since the pandemic broke out in January 2020, to take its tally of infections to 1,50,61,919. With 1,619 deaths, the toll rose to 1,78,769.
The government announcement comes the same day as British prime minister Boris Johnson cancelled his planned visit to India next week due to the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
India has begun inoculating its citizens earlier this year in January, using two COVID-19 vaccines " Serum Institute of India's Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech's made-in-India vaccine, Covaxin.
So far, the government had allowed vaccinations only for frontline workers and those above 45.
With inputs from PTI