India Lowers Covid Vaccine Age to 18 as Infections Surge
A health worker prepares a dose of Covaxin in the Covid-19 vaccination room at the Super Speciality Hospital Hospital in Srinagar, India. (Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg)

India Lowers Covid Vaccine Age to 18 as Infections Surge

India will allow citizens over the age of 18 years to receive Covid-19 vaccinations from next month as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to control the rapid spread of the virus.

Under the third phase of its vaccination strategy, effective from May 1, the government will make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible. This will allow customization to suit local needs, it said in a statement via the Press Information Bureau.

Manufacturers of the shots will be required to supply 50% of their monthly doses to the Indian government and the remainder to state governments or the open market, it said. However, imported, ready-to-use vaccines can be entirely utilized by the latter, it said.

Leaders of some key states had sought the age criterion to be lowered from 45 years and over as rising infections and deaths began to overwhelm the country’s health system, forcing citizens to beg for oxygen and hospital beds on Twitter. India now has the world’s fastest-growing Covid-19 caseload, adding 273,810 new infections and 1,619 deaths on Monday, leaving it behind only the U.S. in terms of total numbers.

Manufacturers will have to declare the price of supply that would be sold to state governments, private hospitals and others in open market before May 1, the statement said.

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