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Centre to bear expenses for first round of vaccination: PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Jabs for 30 crore in first few months: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that the Central government will bear the expenses of vaccinating nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first round and suggested that public representatives, a reference to politicians, should not be part of this initial exercise.

Interacting with state chief ministers, Modi underscored the enormity of what he described as the world's biggest vaccination exercise, which begins from January 16, saying over 30 crore citizens will get the jabs in the next few months in India against only 2.5 crore people vaccinated so far in over 50 countries in around a month.

The two already approved made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines are more cost-effective than any other in the world and have been developed as per the country's needs, he said at the meeting held over video conference to discuss the Covid-19 situation and the vaccination roll-out. Besides the two vaccines -- Covishield developed by Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, four others are in the pipeline, Modi said, asserting that India's fight against the pandemic will enter a decisive stage with the vaccination roll-out.

More vaccines may be available when the exercise moves into the second round, he added. The prime minister also sought to dispel concerns expressed by some opposition leaders and experts over the approval given to Covaxin without the availability of efficacy data, asserting that scientists have taken all precautions to provide citizens with effective vaccines. The prime minister said he has been maintaining from the beginning that the scientific community will have the final word on the issue. India's drug regulator has given nod to Covishield and Covaxin for the emergency use authorisation. It is a matter of pride that both the vaccines are 'made in India', he said, adding that it can be imagined how much hardship India would have faced if it had to depend on foreign vaccines.

Noting that the first round of vaccination is meant for healthcare and frontline workers, he said, "This is my personal suggestion, and no one should take it otherwise. We public representatives are not part of it."

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