Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday described the COVID-19 vaccines as 'Sanjivani' in the fight against the infectious disease as he urged people not to pay heed to hearsay and instead believe in experts and scientists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country and urged people to show patience during the COVID-19 immunisation drive as they had shown till now in fighting the pandemic.
"It's a historic day. We have been blessed by the prime minister all through our fight against COVID-19. It's the largest coronavirus vaccination programme in world," Vardhan told reporters at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
"We have been able to put up a valiant fight against the disease during the last one year. Adopting a preemptive and proactive strategy has resulted in very good performance by India. We have probably the lowest fatality rate in the world," he said.
Thanking all, including doctors, nurses, healthcare staff, security personnel and journalists, who have been at the frontline in the fight against the pandemic, the minister said they ensured India reaches the stage when vaccine gets delivered to the people.
The Drugs Controller General of India had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.
"These vaccines are 'sanjivani' in our fight against this pandemic. We have won the battles against polio and small pox. Now, we have reached the decisive phase of winning the war against coronavirus.
"I want to congratulate all frontline workers on this day. At times when rumours are being spread, I hope the media will spread the correct information and this move will help in the fight against the disease," the health minister said.
Asserting that both the vaccines are safe and effective, Vardhan urged people not to give in to hearsay and instead believe in experts.
"They have put their heart and soul into it," he said.