New Delhi/Varanasi, January 22
The number of beneficiaries receiving COVID-19 vaccine shots crossed the one million mark on Friday even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to dispel fears among a section of people over the injections asserting that all sorts of things are said in politics but the inoculation drive was launched only after nod from scientists.
Amid concerns expressed by some over the emergency-use clearance given to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Modi interacted virtually with healthcare workers of his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi and told them that when doctors and healthcare workers have given a clean chit to the vaccine, it sends a very strong message among people about the efficacy of the shots.
The government has also sent consignments of coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles and is undertaking commercial supplies of the doses to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco.
Meanwhile, Covaxin has showed enhanced immune response without any serious side effects in the participants enrolled for the phase one trials, according to the results published in The Lancet Infectious Disease journal.
The vaccine, codenamed BBV152, was well tolerated in all dose groups with no vaccine-related serious adverse events, noted the authors of the study funded by Bharat Biotech.
Till Friday, nearly 12.7 lakh health workers have received anti-coronavirus shots, the Union Health Ministry said. It said that on Friday, 2,28,563 beneficiaries were vaccinated till 6 pm through 6,230 sessions.
According to the ministry, over 1,110 cases of adverse effect after vaccination (AEFI) have been reported till now.
In Gurgaon, a healthcare worker, who had received a coronavirus vaccine six days ago, died but officials said there was nothing yet to suggest any link with the inoculation.
The 55-year-old woman Rajwanti used to work at the Bhangrola primary health centre and her viscera has been sent for investigation, Chief Medical Officer Virender Yadav said.
Two healthcare workers in Odisha were admitted to hospital as they reported AEFI after receiving the jabs. The condition of the duo was stated to be stable.
Five minor AEFI cases were reported in West Bengal and Assam.
With authorities grappling with hesitancy over the vaccination as many health workers are not turning up to get themselves inoculated at their assigned centres, Modi told the COVID warriors about the hard work of the scientists and the scientific process involved in making the vaccines.
He said all sorts of things are said in politics but he went by the scientists’ decision. Politicians talk about “this and that” (“Idhar ki bhi baat hoti hai, udhar ki bhi”), he said.
Modi had launched the inoculation drive on January 16, with the government prioritising three crore health and frontline workers for the initial phase. Two vaccines are being used—Covaxin and Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
“It was an unknown enemy which scientists, who are modern ‘rishis’, chased in laboratories by working day and night,” he said, hailing their fight against the virus. Our own made-in-India vaccine is reaching every corner of the country. India has not only become ‘atmanirbhar’ in the field of vaccines but is also helping other countries,” Modi went on to say.
Starting his interaction with Pushpa Devi, a matron at a district women’s hospital, Modi asked whether she could say with confidence to others that the vaccine is safe.
“I was fortunate to get vaccinated,” she replied, adding that she now felt safe for her family’s sake as well.
“I am telling everyone that there is no side effect. It’s like any other injection and I appeal to everyone to go for it,” she said.
Modi reminded her that some people had apprehensions. The health worker said fear must shed and the vaccine taken—“Darr ko hatana hai, vaccine lagwana hai”.
Health worker Rani Kunwar from the same hospital said, “People bless us for the vaccine that we got within 10 months due to you.”
Talking to Dr V Shukla, chief medical superintendent at DDU hospital, the PM hailed the work of the medical fraternity as “corona warriors”. He said projects such as a cleanliness drive, safe drinking water and toilets offered “indirect benefits” while dealing with the virus.
The doctor said there are potential side effects of every vaccine and drew a distinction between them and any adverse events due to a previous medical history.
“Despite India being a developing country, we stole a march over developed countries in developing the vaccine,” Shukla said.
Modi suggested that there should be competition among hospitals and other institutes on vaccinating frontline workers so that the next phase can start soon.
Senior Lab Technician R C Rai said his team was full of confidence and seeing them the others’ trust on the vaccine has increased.
Another medical worker said she vaccinated 87 people on January 16 alone, and also got herself vaccinated.
“Really, corona warriors have done a wonderful job,” Modi said in the 30-minute interaction.
He had earlier said the interaction was meant to get feedback on the vaccination drive, described as the world’s biggest. — PTI