The Centre has deferred the National Polio immunisation programme till further notice, citing “unforseen activities,” PTI reported on Wednesday. Under the scheme, children falling in the age group of zero to five years are administered polio drops.

The drive was postponed in view of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, scheduled to begin from January 16, according to ANI.

The Union health ministry communicated the decision to all states and Union Territories through a letter on January 9. “This is to inform that due to unforeseen activities, it is decided to postpone the scheduled Polio NID [National Immunisation Day] round from January 17, 2021, till further notice,” it said.

The National Immunisation Day, commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunisation programme, was scheduled for January 17, a day after the country will launch its massive coronavirus vaccination drive. The Centre is planning to inoculate 30 crore people in the first phase of the programme. Health professionals and frontline workers will get the vaccine for free.

The Drugs Controller General of India had approved Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines for emergency use on January 3. The Serum Institute is the local maker of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has manufactured India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.

Experts have, however, questioned the government’s decision to clear Covaxin without the publication of data from its phase-3 human trials.

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