PM Modi Photograph:( Twitter )
'Dawaai bhi aur kadaai bhi' (vaccine along with the mandatory restrictions and strictness) was the motto of Modi's nationally televised address on Saturday morning.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's biggest coronavirus vaccine programme on Saturday virtually in New Delhi.
On day one, around 300,000 people will receive the first of two doses of the vaccine.
PM Modi exhorted Indians to keep following the Covid guidelines even though the vaccine roll-out does offer a glimmer of hope. 'Dawaai bhi aur kadaai bhi' (vaccine along with the mandatory restrictions and strictness) was the motto of Modi's nationally televised address on Saturday morning.
The prime minister said, "Everyone was waiting for this day with bated breath. Everyone kept asking when the vaccine would come. It’s here and in a short span of time. In some minutes from now, the world’s biggest vaccination drive is to begin. It's a testimony to our scientists' talent and skills."
India, home to 1.3 billion people, has the world's second-largest caseload, and the government has given approvals to two vaccines -- though one is yet to complete clinical trials -- aiming to inoculate around 300 million people by July.
Emphasising the enormity of the vaccination drive, which he launched through a remote control amid chanting of Sanskrit shloka that meant 'let everybody be happy, let everybody be healthy', Modi said never before in history, has this type of a large-scale vaccination campaign been undertaken.
He said, "Such a big vaccination drive hasn’t ever been conducted in history. Look at the figures in the first phase -- 3 crore. We have to take it to 30 crore in the second phase. The United States, China and India are the only three countries in the world with a population of over 30 crore. The vaccination drive in India, by that measure, is so huge."
"India's vaccines enjoy global credibility because of their track record. Scientists and experts are satisfied with the safety of Made in India vaccines. That's why they have approved it. Citizens should hence stay away from propaganda, misinformation and rumours," the prime minister advised his countrymen.
"I want to remind people of the country that two doses of the vaccine are very important. Don't commit the mistake that you take one dose and forget the second one. As experts have been saying, there will be a gap of about one month between the two doses," Modi said.
PM Modi got overwhelmed with emotions as he remembered the ones India lost due to Covid-19, and were not accorded a proper farewell owing to the restrictions on movement.
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 said, "Covid-19 kept people away from their families. 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."
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 the massive inoculation drive.
On January 30, the first case of coronavirus was found in India, but even more than two weeks before that India had formed a high level committee, he said.
The country had issued its first advisory on January 17 and India was among first few nations that started screening at airports, Modi said emphasising the speed at which India acted to deal with the pandemic.
Modi also talked about evacuation of Indians stuck abroad, saying that at a time when many countries of the world had left their citizens stranded in China, India evacuated not only Indians but citizens of other countries.
The prime minister congratulated the countrymen for passing the challenge of discipline and patience during the 'Janata Curfew' in March.
He pointed out that the exercise prepared the country psychologically for the lockdown. Morale of the country was kept high with the campaigns like 'taali-thali' and lighting of diyas, the prime minister added.
Delhi's Sulochna Kataria, a healthcare worker for 30 years, would be the first person to get vaccinated in India under the massive programme.
Meanwhile, India's Covid caseload on Saturday climbed to 1,05,42,841 with 15,158 more people testing positive for the disease while recoveries surged to 1,01,79,715. The death toll increased to 1,52,093 with 175 more fatalities.