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Omicron, Booster Dose & Lockdowns: As Network18's Sanjeevani Campaign Concludes; Here's Who Said What

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: December 12, 2021, 19:53 IST

'Sanjeevani- a shot of life'- a drive that  created awareness around COVID-19 vaccinations. (News 18)

'Sanjeevani- a shot of life'- a drive that created awareness around COVID-19 vaccinations. (News 18)

Covid warriors including ASHA workers, healthcare workers, and volunteers were felicitated for their service during the pandemic.

A host of dignitaries, celebrities, and experts participated in Network 18’s Sanjeevani telethon to celebrate the ground-breaking achievements of the vaccination campaign on Sunday.

The panel of experts included- SII, CEO, Adar Poonawalla, George Aikara, CEO, United Way Mumbai, Stanley Plotkin, Vaccinologist of the Wistar, Dr Roderico H. Ofrin, WHO India Rep, Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister, Haryana, Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan, Neeraj Chopra, Gold Medalist, Tokyo 2020, Advait Kolarkar, Youngest Artist, Varre Appa Rao, Chief HR, HCL Technologies, Padma Shree Mohan Das Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education, Atul Satija, CEO, Give India, Dr Krishna Ella, MD Bharat Biotech, WHO, Chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan and singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan.

The nine-month-long campaign successfully overcame Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy, acknowledging loopholes and ensuring widespread coverage in the five worst-affected districts of the country. The initiative was a Federal Bank CSR drive that intends to reach each and every Indian with relevant and important information about the Covid-19 vaccine. Volunteers including healthcare workers, Anganwadi, and ASHA workers drove ‘Sanjeevani Ki Gaadi’- a van, through these affected areas and worked on dispelling mistruths, and disseminated information among villagers.

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Talking about the significance of Sanjeevani Gaadi, Ashutosh Khajuria, ED, Federal Bank, said that it has been helpful in reaching out far off places and in helping bust myths around COVID and vaccination. “There were rumours and lots of misconception about vaccines, the idea of choosing five districts and helping people in every way possible was great. Sanjeevani Gadi was a superb concept, it helped in reaching out to maximum people. I salute to ASHA workers and everyone else who reached out to the remotest part of the country in addressing the vaccine hesitancy," he said.

Celebrating the biggest vaccination awareness drive at one of its kind Telethon, George Aikara, CEO of United Way Mumbai, recalled his experience of busting myths revolving around the Covid-19 vaccines. “Initially people were reluctant to take vaccines, however, after much support from village sarpanch, ASHA workers and other community workers we were able to convince people to get the vaccines.

When asked about one of the most common myths that people followed for not getting jabbed was, they believed their stars were not aligned to get this vaccine.

In the line of experts, next was Serum Institute of India, CEO, Adar Poonawalla, who shared the organization’s journey from collaborating with Oxford, Astra Zeneca in the initial phase of the pandemic, to the most deadly second wave which wreaked havoc across the country. Poonawalla mentioned how during the second wave, SII ramped up their vaccine production three times overnight to meet the country’s rapidly growing demand for vaccines.

“Our journey is being followed from the first day in 2020 when the organisation partnered with Oxford and then Astra Zeneca for production of Covid-19 vaccines. We went through so many challenges including finding the right partner, capital, manufacturing at risk, building these facilities ahead of time, and then ramping the production during the deadly second wave. It’s been a tremendous journey,” he said.

Commenting on the global debate over booster shots after the emergence of heavily mutated Covid-19 variant Omicron, Poonawalla said, “lot of companies are working on Omicron-specific vaccines, if needed we will also launch it as a booster shot. However, right now the best strategy is to boost it using available vaccines which are licensed and are safe to use.”

Team Sanjeevani also paid tribute to India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat who died in an ill-fated chopper crash along with 11 others on December 8. An inquiry into the crash has been ordered and it will be headed by the Indian Air Force’s Air Officer Training Command Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, one of its most experienced helicopter pilots with over 6,600 hours of flying on various types. At the telethon, playback singer, Shilpa Rao dedicated a composition to Late General Rawat and the team observed a one-minute silence in the name of the country’s brave men who lost their lives in the crash.

Meanwhile giving some hope on the new variant Omicron, Dr Krishna Ella, MD Bharat Biotech said there is no need to be afraid of Omicron and that his team is in the process of making Covaxin capable of fighting all variants. He further mentioned that “all these viruses will mutate and are bound to mutate. When so many mutations happen in one virus, the fitness of virus survival decreases, which eventually becomes good for human beings. It is going to be less pathogenic.”

Gold Medalist, Neeraj Chopra also shared his journey of being inoculated against Covid-19 before heading to the Tokyo Olympics 2020. He said that he and his coach had to get vaccinated before heading for the Olympics and he got jabbed while he was undergoing training. He also addressed about the issue of vaccine hesitancy and myths around Covid jabs, back in his hometown.

Surveys have indicated many unvaccinated adults are willing to take the vaccine as soon as they get the opportunity. Amid Omicron scare, the hesitancy rate has decreased in India. Commenting on the issue, Chief Scientist of World Health Organisation, Dr Soumya Swaminathan said, “we need to focus more on the unvaccinated, the children and adolescents as India has low vaccine hesitancy.” She also talked about how amid Omicron emergency, India needs to develop new vaccines while simultaneously generating data on existing vaccines- Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik.

Last but not least, dignitaries like Mahantesh Kivadasannavar, founder of Samarthanam Trust; Aaditya Thackrey, Maharashtra minister; Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and Bollywood star, Sara Ali Khan also participated in the telethon. Covid warriors including ASHA workers, healthcare workers, and volunteers were felicitated for their service during the pandemic.

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first published:December 12, 2021, 16:31 IST
last updated:December 12, 2021, 19:53 IST