As Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday, he also delivered an indirect expose of Pakistan, without naming the country. He said that at a time when “few countries” had abandoned their citizens amid rising cases of Coronavirus in China, India not only brought back its citizens but also helped other nations. “At a time when some countries had left their citizens amid increasing cases of coronavirus in China, India brought back every Indian trapped in China. And not only of India, but we also brought back citizens of many other countries from there,” PM Modi said.
The PM was referring to the incident in January last year when Pakistan government decided not to evacuate its citizens from the Coronavirus-hit Wuhan city to show “solidarity” with its all-weather ally China. Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza had said that Pakistan would not to evacuate its nationals from China in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), essentially stating that Pakistani nationals were in better hands in the epicentre of COVID than they would be in their own country which was yet to be hit at that time. Moreover, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had said that India had offered to ‘bring back all the people in our neighbourhood’, including Pakistani students from Wuhan, but the Imran Khan-led country refused.
ऐसे समय में जब कुछ देशों ने अपने नागरिकों को चीन में बढ़ते कोरोना के बीच छोड़ दिया था, तब भारत, चीन में फंसे हर भारतीय को वापस लेकर आया।
और सिर्फ भारत के ही नहीं, हम कई दूसरे देशों के नागरिकों को भी वहां से वापस निकालकर लाए: PM#LargestVaccineDrive
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 16, 2021
World’s largest vaccination drive
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive and asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out will ensure a “decisive victory” for the country over the coronavirus pandemic. Addressing the nation ahead of the launch, PM Modi reminded people that two doses of vaccine are very important and asked them to maintain wearing masks and social distancing even after receiving the jabs. “Dawai bhi, kadai bhi,” he said.
During his speech, PM Modi turned emotional as he spoke of the disruption the pandemic caused to people’s lives, isolating victims of the Coronavirus and denying the dead traditional last rites. 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 also urged the country to show patience during the vaccination drive as it had shown till now in fighting the pandemic.
“Normally, it takes years to make a vaccine but in such a short span of time, not one, but two ‘Made in India’ vaccines are ready. India getting two vaccines in such a short time is a testimony to the talent and skills of the nation’s scientists”, the prime minister said. “Our vaccination programme is driven by humanitarian concerns, those exposed to maximum risk will get priority,” he added.
PM Modi also assured that scientists and experts have given permission for emergency use of the made-in-India vaccines only after being absolutely sure of their safety and the people should be aware of any propaganda and rumours. According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities. Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.
The development comes after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.