Asia Today: India expands its vaccination drive

India is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk

Those now eligible to be vaccinated include people older than 60, as well as those over 45 who have ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness. The shots will be given for free at government hospitals and will also be sold at over 10,000 private hospitals at a fixed price of 250 rupees, or $3.40, per shot.

Among the first to be inoculated on Monday was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, who is 70, got the shot at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He appealed for all to get vaccinated, tweeting afterward, “together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people started one of the world’s largest vaccination drives in January, but the rollout has been sluggish.

India has recorded more than 11 million cases, second in the world behind the United States, with over 157,000 deaths in the country from COVID-19.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region: