The PM said the pricing of the vaccine would be finalised keeping public health interests in mind and after deliberations with state governments. He strongly urged political leaders attending the meeting to dispel rumours about the vaccine and said unfounded claims would hurt the fight against the virus. His reference seemed to be the recent controversy over an adverse event during a vaccine trial and concerns over “vaccine hesitancy” in the wider public.
“Rollout of the vaccine will begin as soon as scientists wave the green flag,” Modi said. He added that there were eight vaccines being developed that would be manufactured in India and referred to three home-grown initiatives. He expressed confidence that progress on the vaccine front had strengthened India’s fight against the disease but emphasised that given the resurgence of Covid-19 in parts of the world, the need to use masks and observe hygiene would remain.
He broadly confirmed reports on India’s prioritisation plan for the vaccine, saying health and frontline workers and elderly people who are vulnerable to the virus would receive the shots first. He said India’s policies were shaped by scientific and expert advice and this had yielded good results in terms of disease control, treatment and lower mortalities. This will continue to be the case, he added.
Modi said the Centre and state teams were working in close coordination on vaccine strategy. “India has vaccine distribution expertise and capacity. We are far better than several other countries in this regard. We have a vast and experienced vaccination network and the country will capitalise on these advantages,” he added.
The PM said some additional cold chain equipment and other logistics would be required, which would be evaluated with the help of state governments.
“India has developed a special software, Covin, in which beneficiaries of vaccine, and real-time information about availability and storage of the vaccine will be available,” the PM said. “A special task force has been constituted for vaccine research with technical experts, officials from ministries concerned and officers from each zone,” he added.
Modi said the world was looking towards India for the development of a safe and affordable vaccine.
Political parties which participated in the meeting included Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, YSR Congress, JD(U), BJD, Shiv Sena, TRS, BSP, SP, AIADMK, NCP, JD(S) and BJP. The leaders assured the PM of their full support to ensure efficient and speedy vaccination.
“We not only helped our fellow Indians but also made every effort to save citizens of other countries as well. Also, the scientific methodology adopted by India led to increased testing in India, which not only reduced the positivity rate but also reduced the Covid mortality rate,” the PM said.
Modi once again cautioned against rumours that may be spread about vaccination, saying it would be against both public interest and national interest.