Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine would be made a part of the countrywide immunisation programme soon, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Thursday, according to The Indian Express.

At a press briefing, Bhushan said that the vaccine would be priced differently than the ones being used currently. He said that it was because Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, ZyCov-D, is a three-dose needle-free vaccine.

Unidentified officials told the Hindustan Times that the government was aiming to launch the vaccine on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

India’s drug regulator had granted emergency use authorisation to ZyCov-D on August 20. This is India’s first vaccine for children aged above 12.

The ZyCov-D is the world’s first DNA vaccine against the coronavirus disease and is given in three doses. It makes use of a portion of the genetic code – deoxyribonucleic acid or ribonucleic acid – in the SARS-CoV-2 virus to stimulate an immune response against its spike protein, according to the Ahmedabad-headquartered company.

About one-fourth of India’s eligible population fully vaccinated

India has so far fully-vaccinated 23,86,70,233 people against the coronavirus since the countrywide immunisation programme began in January, data on the CoWin portal showed as of 8.30 pm on Thursday. This is about one-fourth of the country’s population of nearly 100 crore that is eligible for the shots.

“India’s persistence and determination is creating ripples across the global vaccination campaign,” tweeted Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. “1/4th of the eligible population, a phenominal 23.7 crore people, is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.”

The country has also so far administered 65,04,56,058 Covid-19 doses, according to the Cowin portal data. The Centre said that 69% of the adult population has received at least the first shot, PTI reported.

The government said that 64.1% doses of vaccine has been administered in inoculation centres in rural areas and 35% in urban regions.

About 0.88%, or 67.4 lakh doses, have been administered at vaccination centres that were neither tagged as rural nor urban, it said.

Thursday’s landmark was achieved in the same month when India administered over 2.5 crore doses on September 17, which was also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday. The daily vaccination figures, however, had dropped the next day with about 85 lakh shots being administered.

Daily vaccination figures for September. (Source: CoWin portal)

Avoid crowding during festive season: Centre

During the briefing on Thursday, Bhushan also appealed to the public to strictly follow the coronavirus guidelines, avoid crowds, maintain physical distancing and use face masks in view of the upcoming festival season, reported ANI. Various festivals, including Durga puja, Chhath puja, Dusshera and Eid Milad un Nabi are celebrated in October and November.

The health secretary also said that Kerala has the highest number of active cases at 1,44,000. This is 52% of the total active cases of the country, he added.

Maharashtra has 40,000 active cases, Tamil Nadu 17,000, Mizoram 16,800 and Karnataka 12,000, Bhushan said.

India recorded 23,529 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which took the total number of infections in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic in January last year to 3,37,39,980. Thursday’s tally was 24.6% higher than Wednesday’s count of 18,870 cases.

The number of deaths due to Covid-19 in India rose to 4,48,062 with 311 more fatalities in the last day. As of Thursday morning, India’s count of active Covid-19 cases stood at 2,77,020, while the number of recoveries was 3,30,14,898.