Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation while launching the COVID-19 vaccination drive (Image: YouTube/Narendra Modi)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s massive COVID-19 vaccination exercise via a video conference on January 16.
“Everyone was asking as to when the vaccine will be available. It is available now. I congratulate all the countrymen on this occasion,” PM Modi said in his address.
“Usually it takes many years to develop a vaccine but in such a short span of time, not one, but two 'Made in India' vaccines are ready. The work on other vaccines is also progressing at a fast pace,” PM Modi added.
PM Modi said that the unprecedented vaccination exercise will help decisively end the coronavirus pandemic. “Such a vaccination drive, at such a massive scale, was never conducted in history. There are over 100 countries having less than three crore population and India is administering vaccination to 3 crore people in first phase itself. In second phase, we have to take this number to 30 crore,” the prime minister said.
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The prime minister reiterated that those facing the highest risk from the deadly disease will be vaccinated on priority. “Our doctors, nurses, medical staff and frontline workers, among others, have a right to be vaccinated first,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi also said that those getting vaccinated should make sure that they get the second dose – that is to be taken after a gap of around one month.
Read: COVID-19 vaccination drive | How to register, who will get the shots first and other queries answered
The prime minister urged citizens to continue to wear masks and follow other safety protocols, and not believe in rumours about the vaccine. "I request you not to make the mistake of taking off the mask and not maintaining social distancing after getting the first dose because immunity develops after the second dose," PM Modi said.
A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and Union Territories were virtually connected during the event. Authorities had planned vaccinating around 100 beneficiaries at each session site on the inaugural day.
Priority is being given to healthcare and frontline workers, who had already been registered on the purpose-built CoWIN application. This would be sequentially followed by people with comorbidities, senior citizens and finally, the general public. The Centre is hoping to vaccinate 30 crore people by July, in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – for restricted emergency use. Beneficiaries will not be able to choose between the two jabs.
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As of January 16, India had reported more than 1.05 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at over 1.52 lakh. While more than 1.01 crore patients had recovered, 2.11 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 9.32 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 20 lakh people have died so far.
A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy. More than 50 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have already vaccinated a large number of people from high-risk groups.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic