Manish Kumar, a frontline sanitation worker at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, on Saturday became the very first recipient of the ‘Covishield’ COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in India, as part of the nationwide vaccination drive that kicked off today.
Kumar was vaccinated in the presence of the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, who received the vaccine shortly afterwards, and allayed all fears regarding the legitimacy of the shot.
Manish Kumar was quoted as saying after receiving the shot: "She (wife) even asked me not to take the vaccine. I told her it is just an injection. After taking the dose, I asked my mother to tell my wife that I am safe."
"I knew I was a beneficiary, I told my supervisor to make me the first recipient because I wanted to dispel fears around the vaccine. A lot of apprehension is there, but I am fine. I have been working in AIIMS for many years now. There is no reason to be afraid of the vaccine. My family was fearful too, but I told them that I am taking it and I have faith," Kumar said
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said both the vaccines — Bharat Biotech's indigenous shot 'Covaxin', as well as Oxford-AstraZeneca's 'Covishield' — are like "sanjivani" in India's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
"These vaccines are our "sanjivani" in the fight against the pandemic," Dr Harsh Vardhan told a press conference right after the launch of the vaccine campaign. We have won the fight against polio and we have now reached the decisive stage of winning the war against Covid. I take this opportunity to congratulate all frontline personnel."
According to the government, nearly one crore health workers and two crore frontline workers will be vaccinated first, followed by persons above 50 years of age and then patients under 50 years of age.
India on this day launched the world's largest vaccination drive against the coronavirus pandemic, showing the light at the end of a 10-month tunnel that upended millions of lives and livelihoods.
The central government will bear the cost of vaccination of health and frontline personnel.