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India's COVID-19 vaccination story should make every Indian proud: Health minister

New Delhi: Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday that India‘s vaccination programme was a story of new India, and a success story that every Indian should know about. The country’s vaccine roll-out was also an equaliser as it did not discriminate among Indians and set an example for other countries to follow, the minister said.

Speaking at the launch of “Braving a Viral storm,” a book detailing India’s vaccination story written by authors Aashish Chandorkar and Suraj Sudhir, Mandaviya said at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, microsoft founder Bill Gates had congratulated him for the country’s vaccine delivery. “…But it was not easy when we were doing the work. There were all kinds of people who were trying to pull us down. But the PM Modi’s instructions were clear – we need to save the country and not get into politics, and that is what we did,” the health minister said.

Under the COVID-19 vaccination drive, more than 220.15 crore vaccine doses have been administered to the people across the country so far.

There was a pro-vaccine tendency in the country, even as other nations were tackling vaccine hesitancy among their populations only because the government made it a point to take everybody along, and communicate effectively, the minister said.

“India’s vaccine story is also a story of a new India. It’s not a small deal to ensure 1.5 lakh vaccine centres operate and provide the people with the vaccines. You must have never heard that the vaccine hasn’t reached or the vaccinator isn’t present in a centre. We keep hearing about success stories elsewhere. This one is ours,” the minister said.

Chandorkar who has been a councillor to the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said India’s vaccination programme was unique as it delivered access, affordability and availability of vaccines. Not only did it succeed domestically but also internationally with the country sending vaccines to help out other countries, he said, adding that the CoWIN platform was particularly important in the successful rollout.

“This kind of delivery is not important without political support. We were the first country to have a successful vaccine and put together a public private partnership,” he said, adding that the programme was a launchpad for developing state capacities to meet future challenges. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi too received the book.

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