Coronavirus: 'Davai bhi, kadaai bhi,' Modi calls for sustained caution
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for sustained caution against COVID-19, even as India looks forward to commencing its vaccination drive soon. Modi was speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony for an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Gujarat's Rajkot. The statement comes as India is expected to approve a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days.
Modi said, "Earlier, I had said, 'Dawai nahi toh dhilai nahi' (no carelessness until there is a medicine). Now, I am saying 'Dawai bhi aur kadaai bhi' (yes to medicine and yes to caution)," adding that this would be the mantra for 2021. "We are preparing to run the world's largest vaccination program in the next year," the PM added.
Three potential vaccines are under consideration for emergency approval by India's drug regulator: Pfizer-BioNTech's BNT162b2 or Tozinameran, Oxford University and AstraZeneca's Covishield, and Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN. Notably, Tozinameran has already been approved and rolled out in several countries, while AstraZeneca's shot was approved in the United Kingdom on Wednesday. An expert panel will review the applications on Covishield and COVAXIN on Friday.
"Preparations are in the last stages for the vaccination program against COVID-19. People will get vaccines manufactured in India," Modi said. Earlier this week, India completed a two-day dry run to test the end-to-end vaccine delivery processes.
As of Thursday morning, India reported 1,02,66,674 COVID-19 cases, including 1,48,738 deaths, 2,57,656 active cases, and 98,60,280 recoveries. Modi said the number of infections is decreasing now, as he dedicated the last day of the year 2020 to all frontline workers for their continued service during the pandemic. "In the year 2021, we have to strengthen India's role in healthcare," he added.
Urging people to be mindful of rumor-mongering ahead of the vaccination drive, Modi said, "Different people for their personal gains or due to irresponsible behavior spread various rumors. Maybe rumors will be spread when vaccination begins, some have already begun." "Be careful about such rumors and as responsible citizens refrain from forwarding messages on social media without checking."
Rajkot's AIIMS has been allotted 201 acres of land and is likely to be completed by mid-2022. It will be built at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,195 crore. The 750-bed hospital will also have a 30-bed AAYUSH block. It will have 125 MBBS seats and 60 nursing seats. Modi said people will witness both "experience and expertise" of mass immunization at AIIMS.