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India starts massive vaccination drive

India starts massive vaccination drive
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India is starting one of the biggest vaccination drives in the world in an attempt to get control of the coronavirus outbreak that has already killed more than 150,000 people in the country. 

India’s rollout plan aims to get the coronavirus vaccine to 300 million people in a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people, The Associated Press reported

The first round of vaccines will target 30 million health-care and frontline workers and 270 million people who are either over the age of 50 or have a condition that makes the virus more deadly for them.

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India earlier this month approved the emergency use of two vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being used around the world and a vaccine developed in India by a company called Bharat Biotech. 

The Bharat Biotech vaccine has faced skepticism from health officials and citizens alike. Critics point out that India’s vaccine did not clear its last trial phase and one state health minister has come out against the vaccine. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to quell concerns over the vaccine in a speech before the rollout plan by telling the country to not believe “rumors about the safety of the vaccines,” the AP reported.

It is unclear if Modi has been vaccinated for the virus, compared to other countries that have touted their leaders getting the vaccine in an effort to bolster confidence in the shot. Politicians in India are not included in the first round of the vaccination rollout.

India has seen the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world with the country hitting 10.5 million infections. 

Many other major countries have already administered the vaccine to millions of people. However, in places including the United States, the rollout has been much slower than anticipated.