Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the Centre has planned to inoculate upto 30 crore Indians against Covid-19 by August next year, NDTV reported.

The health minister said he expected a vaccine against the coronavirus to be available in the country by the middle of 2021. Vardhan made the remarks at a mask distributing event organised by Red Cross India at the Old Delhi Railway Station.

“In the first three to four months of next year, there is a possibility we will be able to provide a vaccine to the people of the country,” Vardhan added. “By July-August, we have a plan to provide vaccines to around 25 to 30 crore people and we are preparing accordingly.”

India has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. Availability of the vaccine will be subject to approval by domestic regulators, and the Indian government agreeing to purchase them. So far, many other nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia and Israel have made deals to buy millions of doses of the vaccine.

The health minister on Monday also reiterated that the most important principle to protect oneself and others against Covid-19 is to follow basic principles of hygiene and physical distancing. “In fight against Covid-19, our biggest weapons are the mask and the sanitizer,” he added, according to The Hindu.

Vardhan said that India has made significant progress in containing the spread of Covid-19 and has the highest recovery rate in the world. “From one laboratory in January 2020, we now have 2,165 laboratories,” he added. “More than a million people are being tested on a daily basis. We have completed 14 crore cumulative tests today.”

The minister, however, warned against complacency. “Though we have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world, even if one person succumbs to the disease, it is the biggest loss for their friends and family,” he said.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 94,31,692 on Monday morning as it reported 38,772 new cases in 24 hours. The toll rose by 443 to 1,37,139. The country’s active cases stood at 4,46,952, while the recoveries reached 88,47,600.

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