People watch the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on the launch of Covid -19 vaccination drive, at District Hospital in Varanasi, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.(PTI)
People watch the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on the launch of Covid -19 vaccination drive, at District Hospital in Varanasi, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.(PTI)

'Defining victory in war against virus': PM Modi launches Covid-19 vaccine drive

Prime Minister Modi emphasised that “only when our scientists are assured of the power of vaccine, they gave permission for emergency use”, asking people not to pay heed to speculations about the efficacy of the shots.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 12:07 PM IST

Indian vaccines made through “tried and tested methods” will deliver defining victory in the war against Covid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive against the coronavirus disease.

An estimated 300,000 health care workers across 3,006 vaccination sites will be inoculated on Saturday, setting the tone for immunizing 30 million health care and frontline workers in the first phase. The first shot was administered in AIIMS, Delhi.

Prime Minister Modi emphasised that “only when our scientists are assured of the power of vaccine, they gave permission for emergency use”, asking people not to pay heed to speculations about the efficacy of the shots.

“We have credibility. We have earned this credibility from our track record. India produces 60% of vaccines given to children in the world. Our vaccines are made in tried and tested methods. They will give defining victory in the war against covid,” the PM said in his address to the nation.

He hailed "atmabiswas and atmanirbharta (self-confidence and self-reliance)" as the engines of India’s vaccination drive. He said: “Indian vaccines are cheaper than foreign vaccines. There are some foreign vaccines with each dose costing 5,000, and also require a minus 70 degree Celsius temperature for storage.”

The PM described the vaccine allotment formula as humanitarian and, in an emotional tone, described how in the difficult days in the war against Covid, several health care and frontline workers sacrificed their lives.

“As we think about those days, we become sad. But in those days of crisis, there were people who put their lives in danger to save us. Our doctors, nurses, paramedic, ambulance drivers, police, Asha, and other frontline workers. They gave priority to their duties. Many of them stayed away from their families, didn’t go home. There are many friends who will never return home. They sacrificed their lives to save us,” Modi said.

“India’s vaccination programme is based on humanitarian principles. Our doctors, nurses, medical and para medical staff are eligible to get a vaccine before others,” he added.

The PM reminded the beneficiaries to get the second dose of vaccines and described how trials and dry runs were conducted with the help of state governments for a successful launch.

“Two doses of the Corona vaccine is absolutely essential. Don’t make the mistake of not taking the second dose. Two weeks after the second dose, you will develop power to combat Corona. The way you remained patient during the war with Covid, you must show the same patience in the vaccination,” he said.

He pointed out that over 100 countries have a population of less than 30 million, while India is vaccinating 30 million people in the first stage alone.

“That’s why India’s vaccination programme is so big. That’s why the vaccination drive will underline India’s strength,” Modi added.

The PM also defended all the measures to tackle Covid and emphasised that the government took the right decisions in right time. He narrated the long journey of forming a committee on January 17, becoming the first country to screen passengers at airports, and how his idea of janta curfew “mentally prepared the country for lockdown.”

He admitted that the federal lockdown was a difficult task and said, “We knew it was difficult to keep such a large population inside home. We knew what will be the impact on economy. But we treaded on 'jaan hai to jahan hai' formula.”

He also took digs at Pakistan that did little to expatriate its people from China. “We kept examples before the world. When some countries left their citizens in China, India expatriated its own people and also those of other countries. The world recognised the mettle of India. We showed how, states and the Centre can work together,” he said.

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