Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India’s coronavirus vaccination drive, as the inoculation process kicked off in 3,006 sites across all states and Union Territories. Modi billed the vaccination process as the largest-ever in history.
The prime minister hailed those who were involved in the research and development of the vaccines. “It usually takes years to develop a vaccine,” he said. “But in such short span of time not one, but two vaccines have been made in India.”
In a word of caution, Modi asked people to continue to follow coronavirus protocols, and gave a new motto: “Dawai bhi, kadaai bhi [Vaccine, as well as discipline]”. He also urged citizens not to ignore the second dose of the vaccine, pointing out that that the antibodies in a person will start to develop only two weeks after the second shot.
PM Modi reiterated the Centre’s plan to vaccinate 30 crore people by the second phase of the immunisation process and said that elderly citizens and those with co-morbidities, will be given the shot after health workers and frontline workers in the first phase.
He praised all those who were involved in the fight against the coronavirus and spoke about people who were separated from their loved ones during the pandemic and those who died while in isolation.
“Today when we take a look at the last year, we realise that we have learnt a lot as individuals, family and nation,” he said, according to NDTV. “I want to remember those days when the disease kept people away from their families. Mothers wept for their children but couldn’t hold them. Old fathers fought the disease alone in hospitals, their children could not help them. We could not perform rituals for those who died due to corona. It makes me extremely sad.”
Referring to frontline workers, he added:
“In times of that crisis and atmosphere of despair, some were giving us hope. They were putting themselves at risk to save us – doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, police and other frontline workers. They prioritised their duty to humanity. They stayed away from their families and children, they stayed away from home for days...Hundreds never returned home.
They sacrificed their lives to save lives. So today, by vaccinating healthcare workers first, society is paying their debt.— Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The prime minister warned against rumour mongering related to the vaccine and backed the credibility of the shots developed in India. “The DGCI [Drug Controller General of India] gave approval after they were satisfied with the data of the two vaccines,” he said. “So stay away from rumours. Our vaccine developers have a global credibility.”
He also highlighted efforts put in by the government to extend help to other countries during the pandemic. “There was a time when some countries left their citizens in China amid rising cases,” he said. “Our government brought back not just Indian citizens, but those from other countries too. The government also sent an entire laboratory to a country which was struggling to test Indians due to lack of machines.”