New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India's COVID-19 vaccination drive and asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out will 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 vaccine are very important and asked them to maintain wearing masks and social distancing even after receiving the jabs.
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 whom 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 are ready, Modi said, adding work on other vaccines is also progressing at a fast pace.
India getting two vaccines in such a short time is 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 that scientists and experts have 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 will ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic, he asserted.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and 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.
Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.
Vaccine hesitancy has been compounded by the ongoing experience of surviving in the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated uncertainty
The toll climbed to 1,64,623 on Sunday with 513 new fatalities, the health ministry's data updated at 8 am showed
In highest ever single-day spike, the state reported 59,907 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the overall caseload to 31,73,261