AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria became one of the first Indians to get vaccinated against Covid-19 on Saturday morning in a move aimed at inspiring confidence among the public about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines being rollout out in the country.
Dr Guleria received his shot on live television soon after sanitation worker Manish Kumar became the first to be administered the vaccine in the country at AIIMS in Delhi, in the presence of health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Vinod K Paul, who heads a government panel on vaccine strategy, was also administered the vaccine on live television after Dr Guleria, as they joined the first wave of senior professionals in the medical field to be vaccinated in a campaign to assure people that it is safe, and boost the morale of frontline workers who will be the first to get the jabs.
“I am fine, right before you. I feel relieved. We will scale up vaccination sites, there will be many more vaccines. Yes there were problems with CO-WIN (registration app) but it is the largest IT platform and now data of millions will go into it,” Paul told News18.
They took the vaccines soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Indians in a televised address that Indian should not worry about the two approved vaccines in India as approvals were given after experts were satisfied with data. “So stay away from rumours,” he said.
India has approved two vaccines for emergency use – Covishield, the Oxford-AstranZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute, and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, which lacks large-scale safety and efficacy data since its phase three clinical trials are incomplete. Beneficiaries will not be able to choose between the two vaccines.
On the first day, around 100 people will be voluntarily vaccinated in each of the 3,006 centres in the country, the government said, calling it the start of the biggest such campaign in the world.
First to get the vaccine will be 3 crore health and other frontline workers, such as those in sanitation and security, followed by about 27 crore people older than 50 or deemed high-risk because of pre-existing medical conditions. PM Modi has said politicians will not be considered frontline workers.