India starts world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive

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NEW DELHI (AP) – India on Saturday began vaccinating health workers in what is arguably the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier countries where the effort is already well underway.

The country is home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers and has one of the largest vaccination programs. But there is no playbook for the enormity of the challenge.

Indian authorities are hoping to shoot 300 million people, roughly the population of the United States and several times more than its existing program that targets 26 million infants. Beneficiaries include 30 million doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, followed by 270 million others, over the age of 50 or suffering from illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

Health officials have not specified what percentage of the nearly 1.4 billion people will be targeted by the campaign. But experts say it will almost certainly be the largest such project in the world.

The pure ladder has its obstacles. For example, India plans to rely heavily on a digital platform to track vaccine shipping and delivery. But public health experts point out that the internet remains spotty in large parts of the country, and some remote villages are completely disconnected.

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