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2 JAN 2021

NEW DELHI: India on Saturday began a massive nationwide one-day exercise for the trial run of coronavirus vaccination in the country, Anadolu Agency reported according to the country’s Health Ministry.

All states are participating in the exercise for gearing up for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine across the country, said officials.

"The objective of the Dry Run for COVID-19 vaccine introduction is to assess operational feasibility in the use of Co-WIN application (a digital platform to help effective vaccine distribution) in the field environment, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guideway forward prior to actual implementation," said a statement by the ministry, adding: "This is also expected to give confidence to programme managers at various levels."

Country's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday morning visited a hospital in the capital New Delhi to review the exercise.

Responding to a question, Vardhan later told the media that the vaccine will be free of cost across the country.

Today's trial run has come after the first round of trial runs in four Indian states.

According to the Health Ministry, around 96,000 health personnel, including 2,360 at the national level and over 57,000 at the district level, have been trained for this purpose.

Local media earlier said an expert committee on Friday recommended the emergency authorisation of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the country, but there has been no official confirmation so far.

India is close to approving the vaccine, while the number of daily cases has recently been dropping. Over 19,000 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, bringing the total mark to 10.35 million, according to a health bulletin released on Saturday morning.

There were 224 new fatalities also reported on Saturday, taking the number of disease-related deaths to 149,218. -Bernama

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