India to offer COVID booster shots to all adults from Sunday

India to make shots available to all adults for a fee from Sunday as number of new cases in the country drops sharply.

India will offer booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults from Sunday as the number of new virus cases in the country drops sharply.

The free third doses of the vaccine will be limited to front-line workers and those older than 60 who get them at government centres.

The country has given 1.85 billion vaccine doses among its population of 1.35 billion. Of these, 82 percent are the AstraZeneca vaccine, made domestically and called Covishield.

The ministry said those who had taken their second dose nine months ago would be eligible for the shot, which they will have to pay for at private facilities with no mixing and matching of vaccines allowed.

“Adding an extra layer of safety,” Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a Twitter post flagging the decision.

The booster programme started in January and was limited to front-line workers and the elderly, administering a total of 24 million doses.

Other vaccines used in India are the domestically developed Covaxin and Corbevax and Russia’s Sputnik V.

In March, reports said India was considering making all adults eligible for booster doses at a time of growing infections in some countries, while some Indians found it hard to travel abroad without a third dose.

The South Asian country has recorded a steep dip in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with the health ministry reporting approximately 1,100 cases on Friday.

India remains the world’s third-worst affected nation by the virus after the United States and Brazil.

More than 521,000 people have died, and at least 40 million have been infected across the country since the pandemic began in January 2020, according to official figures.

At least 4,000 people were dying every day at the height of the pandemic in India between March and May last year, according to official figures, which are widely thought to be underestimated.

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