Prime Narendra Modi on Tuesday underscored that both speed and safety were of essence while launching a vaccine and India would simply follow the scientific processes that are put in place.
The comments came during a video conference, ahead of the possible launch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by early next year.
He said the government is keeping a close watch on the development of vaccines and is in contact with Indian developers and manufacturers, along with the governments of other countries and international companies.
He noted that the priority that is to be accorded to vaccination will be decided in tandem with the states. He urged the states to work in tandem with the government to meet the logistical challenges and create the necessary infrastructure. The Pfizera and Moderna vaccines at least need special cols storage facilities.
The prime minister forewarned that vaccines may have side-effects as it was an uncharted territory. he reminded his audience that ''medicines popular for the last 20 years and used by hundreds of thousands of people can lead to reactions in some cases, even today." ‘‘This may be the case with vaccines, too. Any decision should only be weighed on a scientific scale. Whatever vaccine makes it through the world's certified processes, we will have to accept them and move ahead."
Modi reviewed with the chief ministers of eight states, through video conferencing, the Covid-19 management and modalities of the vaccine distribution and took details from them on the ground situation.
He also underscored the need for reducing the fatality rate below 1%, which is currently veering around 1.46%.
The states shortlisted for the review were Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and West Bengal; only two of them, Gujarat and Haryana, are ruled by the BJP and the rest by the opposition parties.
Breaking down the people's response to the pandemic in four stages, Modi said the first was of fear when people reacted with panic, followed by doubts about the virus when many people tried to hide that they had been afflicted. The third stage was of acceptance when people became more serious about the virus and displayed greater alertness. In the fourth stage, with the recovery rate improving, people have developed a sense of complacency and a false notion of being insulated from the virus, thus leading to rise in negligence.
He noted that the fresh spike in countries abroad, where its impact had earlier lessened, is manifest in some States as well, which necessitates greater alacrity and caution by the administration.
His emphasis was on increasing RT-PCR tests, better monitoring of patients, especially in home quarantine, and better village and community level awareness of the virus.