PM Calls India’s Vaccination Drive ‘Science-Driven’ As Covid Jabs For 12-14 Age Group Begin

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New Delhi: As the Covid-19 vaccination of children belonging to the age group of 12 to 14 years started on Wednesday, March 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that today is an important day in India’s efforts to vaccinate the country’s citizens. He took to Twitter to praise India’s vaccination drive, and called it “science-driven”. 

Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Biological E’s Corbevax is the only Covid-19 vaccine being administered to the 12-to-14 age group. Also, beneficiaries aged more than 60 years are now eligible for the precautionary dose.

The Prime Minister said that now onwards, youngsters in the 12-14 age group are eligible for vaccines, and all those above 60 years of age are eligible for precaution doses. “I urge people in these age groups to get vaccinated,” he wrote. 

Modi further said that India’s vaccination drive, which is the largest in the world, is science-driven. In a Twitter thread, recalled the timeline of events leading to India’s vaccination drive. “We began work to create vaccines in early 2020, to protect our citizens and strengthen our fight against the pandemic,” he further said.

Praising India’s scientists, innovators and the private sector, the Prime Minister said that the manner in which they rose to the occasion is “commendable”. He said that in late 2020, he visited three of India’s vaccine manufacturers, and got firsthand details of their efforts to protect Indian citizens. 

He added: “In January 2021, we began our vaccination drive for doctors, healthcare and frontline workers. The aim was to ensure those at the forefront of the fight against COVID get proper protection at the earliest.”

After this, Modi said that in March 2021, vaccination was opened to those above 60 years of age and those over 45 years of age with comorbidities. He added that later, the vaccination opened for all those above 18 years of age. “It should make every Indian proud that the vaccines are free of cost for those who want it,” the Prime Minister wrote. 

Modi said that today, India has administered more than 180 crore vaccine doses, which include over nine crore doses in the age group of 15-17, and over two crore precaution doses. The Prime Minister said that “this forms an important protective shield for our citizens against COVID-19”. 

Appreciating India’s vaccination drive, Modi said that it has been “people-powered”, over the last year. “Unlike other nations where we are witnessing a lot of vaccine hesitancy, people here have not only taken their doses but also urged others to get vaccinated as soon as possible. This is heartening to see,” he added. 

Modi also praised the state governments for their support towards India’s vaccination drive. “I would like to appreciate our state governments for their support towards India’s vaccination drive. Several states, especially the hill states and those where tourism is important, have achieved near total vaccination coverage and several big states have also done well,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi said that in line with India’s ethos of caring for the entire planet, the country sent vaccines to several nations under the Vaccine Maitri programme. “I am glad that India’s vaccination efforts have made the global fight against COVID-19 stronger,” he wrote. 

After this, the Prime Minister said that today, India has many ‘Made in India’ vaccines. He said that India has also granted approval to other vaccines after a due process of evaluation. “We are in a much better position to fight this deadly pandemic. At the same time, we have to keep following all COVID related precautions,” Modi concluded. 

Corbevax is India’s third indigenous Covid-19 vaccine after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D. 

On February 21, the Drugs Controller General Of India (DCGI) granted emergency use approval to Hyderabad-based firm Biological E’s Covid-19 vaccine Corbevax for inoculating adolescents aged 12-18 years.

India has been using Covaxin to vaccinate adolescents aged 15 to 18 years. In December last year, Covaxin received approval for emergency use in adolescents aged 12 to 18.

The first vaccine to be cleared by India’s drug regulator for inoculation of those aged 12 years and above is ZyCov-D. 

Earlier this month, the DCGI granted restricted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Pune-based firm Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covid-19 vaccine Covovax for children aged 12 to 17 years, subject to certain conditions. SII’s Covovax is a nanoparticle-based vaccine and is manufactured by technology transfer from Novavax.

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