Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India's COVID-19 vaccination drive and asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out would ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic.Addressing the nation ahead of the launch, Modi reminded people that two doses of the vaccine were very important and asked them to maintain wearing masks and social distancing even after receiving the jabs.
"'Dawai bhi, kadai bhi," he said.
During his speech, Modi turned emotional as he spoke of the disruption the pandemic caused to people's lives, isolating victims of the coronavirus and denying the dead traditional last rites.
In a choked voice, the prime minister also referred to sacrifices made by healthcare and frontline workers, hundreds of who lost their lives to the viral infection. He also urged the country to show patience during the vaccination drive as it had shown till now in fighting the pandemic.
Normally, it takes years to make a vaccine but in such a short span of time, not one, but two 'Made in India' vaccines were ready, Modi said, adding work on other vaccines was also progressing at a fast pace.
India getting two vaccines in such a short time was a testimony to the talent and skills of the nation's scientists', the prime minister said."Our vaccination programme is driven by humanitarian concerns; those exposed to maximum risk will get priority," he said.
Modi said scientists and experts had given permission for emergency use of the made-in-India vaccines only after being absolutely sure of their safety and the people should be aware of any propaganda and rumours.The made-in-India vaccines would ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic, he asserted.
Modi also asked people to guard against complacency and follow the mantra 'Dawaai bhi, kadaai bhi' (referring to vaccines as well as strict compliance with COVID-appropriate behaviour).
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.This will be the world's largest vaccination programme, covering the entire length and breadth of the country.
According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.
The cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.