11.05 pm: As many as 2,28,563 health workers get vaccinated, taking the total number of beneficiaries to over 12.7 lakh, say health ministry.

10 pm: Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol says wearing a mask is not mandatory for families travelling in four-wheelers in the city now, reports ANI. “For passenger vehicles (such as OLA, UBER) and two-wheelers mask will still remain mandatory,” he adds.

9.39 pm: India says it has not received any request for coronavirus vaccines from Pakistan and that it is undertaking commercial supplies of the doses to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco.

“I am not aware of any request for the supply of Indian-made vaccines to Pakistan on a G2G [government-to-government] basis or commercial basis,” says Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

7.22 pm: Two flights, each carrying two million doses of Covishield vaccine, depart from Mumbai airport for Brazil and Morocco, reports PTI.

7.19 pm: A 56-year-old healthcare worker in Haryana’s Gurgaon, who was given the Covishield coronavirus vaccine last Saturday, dies, reports NDTV. The cause of the death is not yet known, and her body has been sent for an autopsy.

7.14 pm: Mumbai’s Dharavi area reports no new cases in the last 24 hours, according to PTI. The active cases in the locality has come down to 10.

6.21 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to dispel fears about the coronavirus vaccines, reports The Indian Express. “When doctors and health workers give a clean chit to the vaccine, it sends a very strong message among people about the efficacy of the shots,” Modi says in his address to Covid-19 vaccine beneficiaries and vaccinators in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency.

6.18 pm: Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla says the fire that broke out in one of its facilities has no impact on the production of Covishield vaccine and no damage has occurred to the existing stock too, reports ANI. He adds that the fire will not affect the production of the vaccine.

6.16 pm: Kerala reports 6,753 new coronavirus cases, according to ANI. There are 70,395 active cases and 8,03,094 have so far recovered from the infection.

6.13 pm: Delhi records 266 fresh coronavirus cases and seven deaths, reports PTI. With this, the tally climbs to 6,33,542 and the toll stands at 10,789. There are 2,060 active cases in the national Capital.

6.12 pm: Football club Read Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane tests positive for coronavirus, reports ANI.

6.09 pm: Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation no coronavirus cases were reported from Dharavi, reports ANI.

6.08 pm: He adds that the contractual supplies of the coronavirus vaccine is currently being done to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh and Myanmar, according to ANI.

6.07 pm: Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava says supplies of coronavirus vaccines as grant assistance to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will be undertaken after receiving confirmation of regulatory clearances from them, reports ANI.

2.45 pm: On West Bengal Assembly elections, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora says due to Covid-19, the number of polling stations has been increased, reports ANI. “Earlier, West Bengal had 78,903 polling stations,” he says. “Now the state has 1,01,790 polling stations. All polling stations shall be at the ground floor level.”

2.44 pm: The Union health ministry says nearly 10.5 lakh beneficiaries have received the vaccines till date, reports PTI.

2.36 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, interacts with Covid-19 vaccine beneficiaries and vaccinators in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi city, reports News18. Modi lauds his administration’s Swachh Bharat cleanliness mission, and says: “Cleanliness helped in fighting the virus”.

12.45 pm: Modi says India took quick, proactive decisions and did not wait for the problem to aggravate. “With Made in India solutions, we controlled the spread of the virus and improved our health infrastructure,” he adds.

12.44 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India’s fight against the coronavirus has strengthened the country’s health infrastructure through the Make in India mission. “From mass production of masks and sanitiser in the country to develop the coronavirus vaccine, the people of India worked day and night to fight against the pandemic,” he says at the 18th convocation ceremony of Assam’s Tezpur University. “Our Covid-19 management showed where there are resolve and resilience, resources come naturally.”

12.38 pm: Sonia Gandhi, in her opening speech at the Congress Working Committee meeting, lauds the “courageous frontline health professionals and workers” in their fight against the coronavirus. She adds that the party hopes the vaccination process will continue and be completed to the fullest extent.

However, she also criticises the Centre for its handling of the pandemic. “The government has inflicted untold suffering on the people of our country by the manner in which it has managed the Covid-19 pandemic,” she says. “It will take years for the scars to heal.”

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12.01 pm: A total of 19,01,48,024 samples have been tested in the country for the coronavirus, according to an update by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Of these, 8,00,242, were tested on Thursday.

11.56 am: The Uttarakhand government reduces the cost for RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen tests, reports ANI. While the price of RT-PCR tests was lowered from Rs 900 to Rs 500, a Rapid Antigen would now cost Rs 427 instead of Rs 719.

11.54 am: The Centre informs the Supreme Court that it will not give an extra attempt to Union Public Service Commission aspirants who could not appear for the exam in October due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports ANI. The court asks the central government to file an affidavit, and posts the matter for hearing on January 25.

11.51 am: An Indian Navy aircraft in Mumbai loads coronavirus vaccines that will be dispatched to Mauritius and Seychelles.

11.48 am: Delhi on Thursday recorded 24 adverse events from the coronavirus vaccine on the fourth day of the city’s inoculation drive, reports the Hindustan Times. At least 22 of the 24 adverse reactions reported were minor, whereas two people needed hospitalisation. Beneficiaries who had to be hospitalised had received Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin shots, according to the newspaper.

11.45 am: Drugmaker Pfizer has slashed in half the volume of Covid-19 vaccines it will deliver to some countries in the European Union this week, reports Reuters.

Romania will get 50% of its planned volume this week and supplies will only improve gradually, with deliveries not returning to normal until the end of March, Deputy Health Minister Andrei Baciu said.

It was a similar situation in Poland which on Monday received 176,000 doses, a drop of around 50% from what was expected, authorities said.

11.42 am: The Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V will cost less than $10 (about Rs 730) per shot across countries, including in India, Russian Direct Investment Fund’s Chief Executive Officer Kirill Dmitriev said on Thursday, reports ANI. The vaccine is undergoing phase 3 trials.

“The price we have is the same for all of the markets and we have basically announced the pricing of less than USD 10 per shot,” Dmitriev said. “And it will be the same for all of the markets because we believe that there needs to be equal access, equal pricing to all of the countries without any sort of changes.”

11.35 am: Delhi on Thursday recorded its highest turnout for the Covid-19 vaccination drive so far, with 5,942 health care workers out of the targeted 8,100 receiving the shot, reports the Hindustan Times. Officials told the newspaper that the improvement in figures – a nearly 25% point increase from Wednesday – was largely due to certain changes made to the government’s Co-WIN platform that allowed out-of-turn shots to beneficiaries.

9.45 am: India registers 14,545 new cases, taking the overall count to 1,06,25,428. The country’s toll rises by 163 to 1,53,032. India’s active cases stand at 1,88,688, while the number of recoveries reach 1,02,83,708.

9.40 pm: China has offered 5,00,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine to its ally Pakistan, reports the Hindustan Times. The announcement was made by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. “I want to give the nation the good news that China has promised to immediately provide 5,00,000 doses of vaccine to Pakistan by January 31,” Qureshi said. “They [China] have said you can send your airplane and immediately airlift this drug.”

9.35 am: United States President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that makes coronavirus test followed by quarantine mandatory for all travellers coming from overseas, reports PTI. In addition to wearing masks, everyone flying to the United States from another country will need to test before they get on that plane, before they depart, and quarantine when they arrive in America, Biden said.

9.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today hold a virtual meeting with the beneficiaries of the coronavirus vaccine along with the vaccinators of his constituency Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, the Hindustan Times reports. The vaccination drive has started at six centres in the city.

9.28 am: India on Friday dispatched consignments of Serum Institute of India’s Covid-19 vaccine Covishield to Myanmar, Seychelles and Mauritius, reports the Hindustan Times.

Unidentified officials told the newspaper that commercial supplies of Covishield to countries that have agreements with the Serum Institute of India will also begin from Friday. Two flights will carry two million doses each to Brazil and Morocco in the morning.

9.20 am: The number of people who have tested positive for the new variant of the coronavirus in India climbed to 145 on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said, reports PTI. The new strain, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is known to be 70% more transmissible than previous versions of the virus.

Here are the top updates from Thursday

  • The Centre said that so far 9,99,065 health workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched one of the world’s largest immunisation campaigns to bring the pandemic under control on January 16.
  • Five people died after a major fire broke out at Serum Institute of India plant in Pune’s Manjari area. The company has been engaged in large-scale manufacturing of the coronavirus vaccine, Covishield, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.  
  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan sought to dispel concerns about coronavirus vaccine safety. “The message is clear that vaccine is completely safe and effective,” he said. The minister added that the adverse reactions being reported in India were common. 
  • Former All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader VK Sasikala, who was a close aide of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, tested positive for the coronavirus, and was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit ward of Bengaluru’s Victoria Hospital.  
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive the coronavirus vaccine in the second phase of India’s inoculation drive, according to reports. The 70-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party leader is likely to get the first jab in March or April.