Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launching India's vaccination drive today, paid tribute to Indian frontline workers and scientists and warned against falling for propaganda or rumours over vaccines.
Giving India a new motto- “Dawai bhi kadai bhi”- PM Modi also cautioned that even after vaccination, citizens must stay vigilant and maintain all precautions against the virus, including masks and distancing.
India's drive is one of the world's biggest vaccination programmes, aimed at inoculating 3 crore health and other frontline workers to start with. Two shots manufactured in India, one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and the other by Bharat Biotech, are being injected.
The Prime Minister stressed that people should not fall for propaganda over vaccines, amid controversy over Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, which has been cleared for emergency use while still in clinical trial.
"The DGCI (Drug Controller General of India) gave approval after they were satisfied with the data of the two vaccines. So stay away from rumours," PM Modi said.
"Our vaccine developers have a global credibility. Life-saving vaccines given to 60% children globally are made in India."
PM Modi said Indian vaccines were cheaper compared to the other global vaccines, which required stringent conditions for storage.
"India's vaccines are developed in a way keeping in mind the conditions of the country. They will give decisive victory to our country," he said.
Looking back at the time when the pandemic broke out, PM Modi spoke of heart-wrenching moments when many could not even perform last rites for their loved ones and virus-infected people were separated from their families.
Over 3 lakh healthcare workers are set to be inoculated on the first day of the drive which Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said was “probably the beginning of the end” of Covid-19.