India starts free COVID vaccination for all above 18 but glitches remain Jun 22, 2021 0 353 12345 dpa New Delhi Several Indian states opened mass vaccination sites on Monday at school grounds, auditoriums and other facilities, as the government’s free Covid-19 inoculation drive expanded to anyone over the age of 18.India unrolled its vaccination programme in January but is way behind the target it set for itself of fully inoculating at least 300 million people by mid-2021.So far less than 5 percent of India’s 1.3-billion population have been fully vaccinated and 280 million have received at least one dose of the two vaccines that were approved for emergency use in January.The government’s new policy announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month replaces a complex system introduced in May in which the federal and state governments and the private sector bought vaccines at different prices and distributed them to different age groups.The government will now be acquiring 75 percent of all vaccines to be distributed while 25 percent would be procured by private entities at a capped price. But several states, specially those governed by parties other than Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are complaining of constricted supplies of the free vaccines.“We have been told only 1.5 million doses have been allotted to Delhi in July ... this is totally inadequate,” the state’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told reporters. “You say this is the world’s biggest vaccine programme, its certainly becoming the world’s longest,” Sisodia said.Government health officials have said supplies are expected to improve from July and August.The country is also struggling with vaccine hesitancy in rural areas, specially tribal belts.“People should be protected from those who are spreading rumours and fake information against coronavirus vaccines, it harms the poor people the most,” federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Monday.India has the second-largest caseload of Covid-19 in the world at around 29.93 million and has reported 388,135 deaths. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Yoga a ‘source of inner strength’ during pandemic: Modi Jun 22, 2021 0 349 Hong Kong’s Apple Daily facing closure after arrest of executives Jun 22, 2021 0 348 Philippines U-turns on face shields Jun 22, 2021 0 6759 Iran’s Raisi rules out meeting US President Biden dpa Tehran Iranian president-elect Ebrahim Raisi has declined any meeting with US President Joe Biden so long as US sanctions remain in place, and also spoke out against a full renegotiation of the 2015 nuclear deal that .. Lapid to be first Israeli foreign min to visit UAE dpa Tel Aviv Israel’s new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is to become the first to visit the United Arab Emirates, with a trip planned for next week. The head of the Yesh Atid party is to travel to the Gulf state for a two-day visit .. HK’s strict visa rules to hit relations: Taiwan dpa Taipei Taiwan’s government on Monday condemned Hong Kong for imposing strict visa rules on Taiwanese officials, a move it says will worsen diplomatic relations. The criticism came a day after the withdrawal of seven .. Turkish Constitutional Court agrees to rule on ban of pro-Kurdish HDP dpa Istanbul Judges at Turkey’s Constitutional Court unanimously accepted on Monday a case regarding the possible ban of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), state news agency Anadolu ..