Announcing that efforts to rapidly deliver a Made-in-India Covid-19 vaccine to sections which need it most are in the final stages, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday asked people of the country not to lower their guard even after vaccination.
In an address via a video link after laying the foundation stone of the AIIMS in Rajkot, the Prime Minister said: “I used to say earlier, repeatedly: jab tak dawai nahin, tab tak dhilai nahin (do not be complacent till there’s a vaccine). Now the vaccine is on the horizon. It’s a matter of time. But I still want to say: dawai bhi aur kadai bhi (get vaccinated, but take every precaution). We have to get vaccinated, yet remain vigilant. Don’t be under the illusion that there will be no need for restrictions once the vaccine arrives. That’s what the world is saying, that’s what the scientists are saying. Dawai bhi aur kadai bhi should be our mantra for 2021.”
His remarks come on the eve of a crucial meeting of the Subject Expert Committee in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation. It is scheduled to analyse data from the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. Serum has tied up with Oxford-AstraZeneca to manufacture and distribute Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine. Bharat Biotech is developing Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Exuding confidence that the collective effort the country made this year to contain the spread of the virus would again be on display during the vaccination drive, the Prime Minister cautioned against rumour-mongering.
“In our country, rumour mills work overtime. It is possible that rumour mills will be at work once vaccination begins. It is possible numerous falsehoods would be peddled with the intention to show someone in poor light with no consideration of the harm that such activity can cause to the common man.”
“In fact, it has already started to some extent. Innocent people and those with ulterior motives spread them with conviction. I urge people to recognise that the fight against coronavirus is a fight against an invisible enemy. They must prevent the spread of rumours by not forwarding messages on social media without verifying them, and act as responsible citizens,” he said.
He said the fact that he was ending the year by laying the foundation stone of an AIIMS was symbolic of the year gone by and the one approaching. He also commended efforts of doctors, paramedics, nurses, pharmacists, scientists and other frontline corona-warriors for risking their lives to save fellow citizens and paid tribute to those who died in line of duty.
The country of 130 crore people, he said, had demonstrated to the world that it had the capacity to fight the toughest challenge, as was evident from the recovery of around one crore people after contracting Covid-19.
“India is poised for a major overhaul of its health sector… The world has witnessed the contribution of India in meeting health challenges in 2020… India’s contribution is going to be crucial in health solutions and scaling (up) of these solutions in 2021. India is going to play the most important role in the future of health and the health of the future. Here, the world will find competent health professionals and their spirit of service. The world will find here the experience and expertise of mass immunisation, start-ups and a start-up ecosystem for integration of health solutions and technology. These start-ups are making healthcare accessible and improving health outcomes,” he said.
Modi said his government was expanding healthcare infrastructure on mission mode to meet future challenges. He said reforms like constituting the National Medical Commission will lead to improvement in quality of medical education and quantity as well.
“The target is to have an AIIMS in every state and at least one medical college among three Lok Sabha seats. Thanks to these initiatives, 31000 seats of MBBS and 24,000 post-graduate seats have been added over the past six years… Ten new AIIMS have been sanctioned in the past six years and many of them have become fully operational. Besides, we are also setting up 20 super-specialty hospitals in the country,” he said.