Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the mass vaccination drive on Saturday. PM Modi got emotional during the speech as he looked back at the challenges and sufferings faced by individuals amid the coronavirus pandemic. He, however, applauded India's fighting spirit and thanked the frontline and healthcare workers as well as the scientists involved in making the vaccine a reality. The Prime Minister urged people to not pay heed to rumours and propaganda and reiterated that the vaccines are well tested and safe, as well as cheaper than the international counterparts.
Commending India's achievement of producing two coronavirus vaccines, PM Modi said, "It takes years to prepare vaccines. But in the shortest span of time, we have not only one but two India-made vaccines."
He spoke about India's massive vaccination drive and said that there are 100 countries with population less than 3 crore but India is vaccinating 3 crore beneficiaries in the first phase itself. "In the next step, we will take this number to 30 crore. There are only three countries in the world with more than 30 crore population: India, the US and China. Hence, this is going to be the biggest vaccination drive," PM Modi said.
Urging people to take the vaccine and to take the complete course PM Modi allayed fears surrounding the jab. He said that when it comes to vaccines, India enjoys scientific credibility. "Around 60% of children in the world get vaccines that are manufactured in India. The world puts trust in India's vaccine science and research," he said. PM Modi added that Indian vaccines are cheaper than the foreign ones. "Some foreign-made vaccines need to be stored at minus 70-degree Celsius temperature. One dose of some vaccines costs over Rs 5,000," he elaborated.
Even as he spoke about the benefits of the vaccine, PM Modi asked people not to lower their guards. "Remember, these vaccines comprise two shots. And taking both the shots is necessary. It will also take some time after the second shot to show some effects," he said, adding that following COVID-19 protocols is important.
Looking back at the year, PM Modi got emotional and said, "Today when we take a look at the last year, we realise that we have learnt a lot as a person, a family and as a nation. This disease kept people away from their families. The mothers cried for their children and had to stay away. People could not meet their elderly admitted at hospitals. We could not bid adieu to those with proper rituals who died due to coronavirus."
After the launch of the vaccination drive, a sanitation worker, a healthcare worker and AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria were the first three people to be vaccinated.