India begins one of the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccine programmes on Saturday, a colossal and complex task compounded by safety worries, shaky infrastructure and public scepticism.
AFP reports the world’s second-most populous nation hopes to inoculate around 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by July - a number equal to almost the entire US population.
Health workers, people over 50 and those deemed at high-risk are prioritised to receive one of two approved vaccines, although one has yet to complete clinical trials.
On day one around 300,000 people will receive the first of two doses, with prime minister Narendra Modi set to launch the programme virtually in New Delhi.
Authorities say they are drawing on their experience with elections and child immunisation programmes for polio and tuberculosis in rolling out the vaccine.
About 150,000 staff in 700 districts have been specially trained, and India has held several national dry runs involving mock transportation of vaccines.
But in an enormous, impoverished nation with often shoddy transport networks and one of the world’s worst-funded healthcare systems, it is still a daunting undertaking.
Regular child inoculations are a “much smaller game” and vaccinating against Covid-19 will be “deeply challenging”, said Satyajit Rath from the National Institute of Immunology