The final battle against Covid-19 pandemic has begun in India. On Tuesday, consignments of 56.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine were transported by air from Pune to 14 major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Shillong, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Vijaywada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Lucknow and Chandigarh, with the help of four airlines, Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said.
The formal launch of nationwide Covid vaccination drive will begin from January 16. On Monday, Serum Institute of India received the Centre’s initial purchase order for 1.1 crore Covishield doses. The same evening, six refrigerated trucks reached the SII plant in Pune to transport the vaccine doses under tight police security. The trucks left the SII plant on Tuesday morning to be dispatched across the country by air.
Hospitals, state governments, logistic firms have put their infrastructure in place to protect the Covishield vaccines from pilferage or burglary. The vaccine makers are also alert about any attempt at counterfeiting the Covishield vaccine vials. The Centre said on Monday that both Covishield and Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, will be administered in the initial phase of vaccination programme. Four more vaccines are also being readied for induction after approval in the later stages.
In a virtual interaction with all chief ministers on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cautioned them to be on the vigil against “mischievous elements” who may try to sabotage the vaccination drive through rumour-mongering and spreading disinformation. He said, nearly three crore health care and frontline workers will get free vaccines in the first stage, to be followed by priority groups of people aged above 50 years and those with critical diseases under the age of 50 years.
Modi said the frontline workers will include police and paramilitary personnel, home guards, disaster management volunteers and other jawans in civil defence. He pointed out that while only 2.5 crore people across the world have been vaccinated so far despite an early start by certain countries, India plans to vaccinate 30 crore people in the next few months.
The Prime Minister said, “Questions were raised about the delay in the launch of the vaccines in India. There was screaming and shouting by certain people who said that while other countries had launched the vaccination drive, India was lagging behind. I want to tell them that we decided to go by the opinion of experts and scientists who, for us, are the last work on this issue”.
Cautioning chief ministers against rumour mongers, Modi said, “We have to frustrate all such machinations by reaching out to each individual through religious and social organisations and professional bodies”.
The Prime Minister asked all chief ministers to remain in touch with their district officials and ensure that the local administration execute the vaccination plan successfully in a manner similar to the polling exercise, where polling officials right up to the polling booths are trained.
Soon after the Prime Minister spoke to the chief ministers, a minister from Maharashtra Nawab Malik gave a statement saying that there were reservations in the minds of some people about the vaccines, and the PM should lead the nation in taking the vaccine first. Such loose remarks by politicians creates unnecessary fear in the minds of people and it confirms the worst apprehensions which the PM reflected in his speech.
Creating confusion in the minds of people about vaccines can ultimately weaken our resolve to make the vaccination drive a success. Such naysayers should know that as of this moment, nine different types of Covid vaccines are being manufactured in India. I had said in my previous ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show that half of the world’s population will be taking the Covid vaccines which will carry the label ‘Made in India’. This should be a matter of pride for every Indian.
At a time when the entire world trusts the capabilities of our scientists, doctors and drugs companies, it is a matter of sadness that some vested interests are trying to sow seeds of confusion in the minds of Indians about the vaccines. We will ultimately win the war on Covid pandemic, but at the same time, we must be wary of mischievous elements who may try to sabotage the historic Covid vaccination drive.
WATCH AAJ KI BAAT:
Aaj Ki Baat: Monday to Friday, 9 PM
India’s Number One and the most followed Super Prime Time News Show ‘Aaj Ki Baat – Rajat Sharma Ke Saath was launched just before the 2014 General Elections. Since its inception, the show is redefining India’s super-prime time and is numerically far ahead of its contemporaries.