India is in the "endgame of the novel coronavirus pandemic" and to succeed at this stage, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said, politics should be kept out the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
He said people should trust the science behind vaccines and ensure that their near and dear ones get vaccinated on time.
Speaking at the Delhi Medical Association's (DMA's) 62nd Annual Delhi State Medical Conference (MEDICON 2021) in collaboration with Dharamshila Narayana Hospital on Sunday, Mr Vardhan said over 2 crore COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered so far and the vaccination rate has been increased to 15 lakhs per day.
"Unlike most other countries, we have a steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines that are safe with proven immunogenicity and efficacy. Based on the initial results, these Made in India vaccines have shown some of the lowest adverse events following immunization (AEFI) anywhere in the world," he said.
Mr Vardhan asserted that children in the entire world need to be vaccinated against poliomyelitis only because Pakistan and Afghanistan failed to eradicate this disease from their respective countries, the statement said.
"Similarly, India cannot be safe from coronavirus and COVID-19 if rest of the world continues to be unsafe, which is why it is essential to curb COVID-19 vaccine nationalism."
"If poor and underdeveloped countries continue to harbour the novel coronavirus, we shall not be able to ensure safety for all. A fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine is the biggest need of the hour," he said.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India, has emerged as the world's pharmacy, and it supplied 5.51 crore COVID-19 vaccines to 62 different countries, he said.
"At a time of global crisis, under the leadership of Modi Ji, India has emerged as an example to the world in international cooperation," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
"It was Modi ji's insistence that COVID-19 vaccines should be provided with no strings attached, and the countries without the vaccine supply should not be taken advantage of at the time of a global humanitarian crisis," he said.
Looking at the possibility of eradication of COVID-19 in India, Mr Vardhan said, "We are in the end game of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, and to succeed at this stage, we need to follow 3 steps: Keep politics out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, trust the science behind COVID-19 vaccines, and ensure our near and dear ones get vaccinated on time."
The government has already involved private players in COVID-19 vaccination, and if hospitals want, they can conduct vaccination 24x7, the minister said.
"My request to everyone is that just like people embraced ''Jan Andolan for COVID-19 appropriate behaviour," they should embrace Jan Andolan for COVID-19 vaccination and get all COVID-19 vaccine shots whenever they are eligible," he said.
Delhi Medical Association (DMA) honoured Vardhan for his contribution to the medical fraternity and outstanding service and exemplary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health Ministry said in a statement.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers, not just in this room, but across India, rose to the occasion and sacrificed not only their time with family, but also their own mental, physical and emotional health for this beloved nation, Mr Vardhan said.