NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the Central government will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to states for all above 18 years of age from 21 June. “From 21 June, in every state for all citizens above the age of 18 years, the government will provide free vaccine to the states,” the PM said while addressing the nation on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
“Centre itself will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from manufacturers and give it free to the state governments, he added. The PM said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest tragedy in the past 100 years and cautioned that the fight against coronavirus is not over yet.
In his address to the nation, the PM said, “This is the deadliest pandemic in the past 100 years. The modern world has not seen such a pandemic. Our country has fought this pandemic at many levels.”
PM Modi further said that along with the world, India too went through deep pain while battling the deadly virus. “Our country stands united against this pandemic,” the PM said. The PM said that strict adherence to COVID safety protocols has been the biggest weapon in the fight against an invisible enemy like coronavirus.
In this fight, the vaccines have provided a protective cover to all of us, the PM said. PM Modi also hailed the Indian scientists for making a COVID vaccine in such a short time, which he said was ”an achievement for the entire humanity.” ”The scientists of the country have shown in this era that India is no less than any country,” the PM said.
PM Modi said that the trial of two vaccines for children is going on fast. Apart from this, research is also going on in the country on a nasal vaccine. It will be sprayed in the nose by not giving it with a syringe. If this is achieved, then the vaccine campaign will accelerate further.
Highlighting the steps taken by his government, the PM said, “A new health infrastructure has been developed in the past 1.5 years with COVID hospitals, ventilators beds, to preparing a network of testing labs. During the second wave in April-May, demand for medical oxygen increased at an unprecedented rate.’’
PM Modi further stated that that the government extended all possible assistance to the vaccine manufacturers. The government walked shoulder to shoulder with them at every level, he added.
PM also said that the mass vaccination drive was expedited through ‘Mission Indradhanush.’ While claiming that India tackled the COVID-19 pandemic on a war footing, PM Modi said, “India has made all efforts to get medical oxygen from all corners of the world when the country faced a shortage. We have built up medical infrastructure on a war footing.’’
The Prime Minister informed that India so far has delivered 23 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, adding that the inoculation coverage currently stands at 90 per cent.
“During the second wave, the demand for medical oxygen in the country increased unimaginably in the months of April and May. Never in the history of India has the need for medical oxygen been felt in such quantity,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address on Monday.
“To meet this demand, work was done on a war footing,” the PM said adding that ”faith and honest policies helped India in tackling the COVID-19 second wave.’’
PM Modi said that the central government supported the demands of the states regarding the vaccine. And from May 1, 25 per cent of the vaccine work was handed over to the states. The Centre also came to know about the difficulty in handling such a big task.
Making a major announcement, the PM said that the central government will now provide free vaccine to the states. “Till the end of April, the vaccination campaign was going on under the supervision of the centre. Now it has been decided that the Government of India will also take responsibility for 25 per cent vaccine which was with the states. It will happen in two-week time. From Monday (June 21), the Government of India will provide free vaccine to all citizens of the age of 18 years in every state of the country.”
PM Modi said that 25 per cent of the vaccine being made in the country can be taken by private hospitals, this facility will also continue. Now, the entire responsibility of vaccination will be of the central government.
The central government has also made an arrangement that the central government will give information about the vaccine to the state a week in advance.
Making yet another announcement, the PM said, “last year when the lockdown was imposed due to Coronavirus, under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, free ration was arranged for 80 crore countrymen for 8 months. This year also the scheme was extended for May and June also. Today, the government had taken the decision that this scheme would remain in force till Diwali.”
Stressing on the importance of the vaccination drive, he said that vaccination is the only way forward against COVID-19 and lauded India’s efforts to produce two vaccines in India and having administered over 23 crore doses.
“Imagine, if we didn’t have vaccines made in India, how would have the country tackled the pandemic? If you see the history of 50-60 years, it would take at least a decade for various vaccines to come to India. Whether Polio or Small Pox or Hepatitis B, the nation has had to wait for them for years,” PM Modi claimed.
“Only 60% vaccine coverage was there in India (against various diseases) when we took over in 2014. The pace with which it was going, it would have taken 40 years for the country to get vaccinated,” adding that the government launched the Indradhanush campaign which has now led to 90% of the country being vaccinated against these diseases in a span of 5-6 years.
PM Modi’s latest address to the nation came at a time when the country is witnessing the lowest coronavirus cases in two months with 1 lakh fresh cases.
The daily COVID-19 death toll has also come down while the number of active cases in the country has decreased to 14 lakh. PM Modi has addressed the nation a number of times since the pandemic began last year, offering suggestions to people and outlining measures taken by his government to deal with the situation.
PM Modi had on Friday chaired a high-level meeting to review the progress of the mass vaccination drive, during which he was briefed about the current availability of vaccines and the roadmap for ramping it up. The PM was also apprised about the efforts undertaken to help various vaccine manufacturers ramp up the production of vaccines.
The Prime Minister also reviewed the status of vaccination coverage in healthcare workers as well as front-line workers. He also took stock of the vaccination coverage in the above 45 as well as 18-44 age group. After reviewing the status of vaccine wastage in various states, the PM instructed that vaccine wastage numbers are still on the higher side and steps need to be taken to bring them down.