India began the world's largest Covid-19 vaccination programme on Saturday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching the drive aimed at ending the pandemic which so far has killed 1,52,093 people in the country and ravaged the economy.
Addressing the country digitally, the Prime Minister said that India managed to make two 'Made-in-India' vaccines in a very short period which usually takes years.
Lauding the efforts of scientists who are involved in vaccine research, Modi said they deserve special praise for making these vaccines and that "the vaccines will provide us a decisive victory against the deadly pandemic".
Two COVID vaccines approved
The Drug Controller General of India earlier this month approved 'Covishield' and 'Covaxin' vaccines for emergency use. The Oxford University and AstraZeneca have developed 'Covishield', which has been manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India in Pune while Bharat Biotech has developed 'Covaxin'.
The Prime Minister further reminded people to get two doses of the vaccine, explaining that "there should be a gap of almost one month between the first and second doses".
"Only two weeks after the second dose, your body will develop the necessary strength against coronavirus," the Prime Minister said.
From 3 crore to 30 crore people
Noting that this kind of vaccination campaign on such a large scale has never been done in history, Modi said "India is vaccinating three crore people in its first phase of vaccination starting today and the government will bear the cost of the vaccination to be administered to healthcare workers".
In the second phase, the Prime Minister said "we have to take it to 30 crore".
"Those who are elderly, who are suffering from serious illness, will get vaccinated at this stage. You can imagine, there are only three countries in the world with a population above 300 million - India, China and US itself."
The Prime Minister launched the vaccination drive at a time when India registered 1,05,42,841 Covid infections till Saturday with 15,158 new cases in the last 24 hours, as it continued with its streak of low single-day cases. A total of 1,01,79,715 people have recovered from the disease and currently there are 2,11,033 active cases. The recovery rate stands at 96.56 per cent, while the fatality rate is 1.44 per cent.
(With inputs from IANS)