New Delhi, January 16 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that India's coronavirus drive is based on humanitarian and very important principles and also laid emphasis on maintaining social distancing and the use of masks.
Speaking at the launch of the nationwide vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus via video conferencing, PM Modi said: "India's coronavirus drive is based on humanitarian and very important principles. Those who need the vaccine the most will get the dose first. Those who are at high risk will get the vaccine shot at first. Doctors, nurses, sanitation staff at hospitals, medical and para-medical staff are the most deserving to get the vaccine dose first." "Everyone was asking as to when the vaccine will be available. It is available now. It has been made available in very little time. I extend my wishes to the citizens," he added.
The Prime Minister also lauded scientists who were involved in the vaccine research.
"Today, scientists and those who are involved in vaccine research, deserve special praise. They have been involved in making the vaccine against Corona for the past several months. It usually takes years to make a vaccine. But in such a short time, not one, two Made in India vaccines are ready. Work is underway on some other vaccines as well," he said.
"I would like to remind you again that it is very important to have two doses of the corona vaccine. Between the first and second doses, a gap of about one month will be there. Only two weeks after the second dose, your body will develop the necessary immunity against the corona," he added.
"I request you not to make the mistake of taking off the mask and not maintaining social distancing," he further said.
PM Modi said that a vaccination drive on such a massive scale has never been conducted in history. "There are over 100 countries with less than 3 crore population and India is administering vaccination to 3 crore people in the first phase only. In the second phase, we have to take this number to 30 crores," he added.
Billed as the world's largest vaccination program, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first inoculate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated 3 crore people by the end of its first phase.
A total of 3006 session sites across all states and union territories was virtually connected during the launch. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day, the union health ministry has said.
In the first phase government and private sector health care workers, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine.
The drive will be held daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except on the days earmarked for routine immunisation programmes.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday termed the country's vaccination drive as the "beginning of the end of Covid-19." He also urged people to trust the indigenously manufactured vaccine, saying the government has given emergency use approval after proper scientific scrutiny.
In the next phases of the vaccination drive, people aged over 50, and those who are below 50 years but have serious health conditions or co-morbidities will be vaccinated, according to the health ministry.
Dry-runs at vaccination centres across the country have been held with lakhs of healthcare staff across districts being trained.
The drugs regulatory body of India has currently approved two vaccines. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University while the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.
The vaccination programme in the country will use Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work), an online digital platform developed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine. This digital platform will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions.
A dedicated 24x7 call centre - 1075 - has also been established for addressing the queries related to Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.
The full initial procurement amount of 1.65 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines against Covid-19 have been allocated to all States/UTs in the proportion of Health Care Workers database, Union Health Ministry stated.
India reported 15,158 new COVID-19 cases, 16,977 discharges and 175 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry's data on Saturday. The cumulative caseload in the country reached 1,05,42,841 including 2,11,033 active infections and 1,01,79715 recoveries. The death toll has climbed to 1,52,093.
Most of the states have received the first batch of coronavirus vaccine doses including Delhi which has received 2,74,000 vaccine doses, followed by Maharashtra receiving over 9 lakh doses and Andhra Pradesh around with 4.7 lakh doses.