NEW DELHI, Dec 4 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said a COVID-19 vaccine may be ready in a few weeks as he noted that experts believe the wait for it will not be long, and asserted that the vaccination drive in India will begin as soon as scientists give the nod.
In his remarks here at an all-party meeting held virtually to discuss India�s COVID-19 vaccination strategy, Modi said healthcare workers involved in treating coronavirus patients, frontline workers who include police personnel and municipal staff, and old people suffering from serious conditions would be inoculated on priority.
Opposition leaders also expressed their views in the meeting, with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that a COVID-like pandemic can pose a threat to the country�s internal security and policymakers should address this challenge.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who is also a former Union Health Minister, said that the country should be well placed to get vaccines at affordable prices and at an early stage.
In his concluding address at the meeting called by the government to discuss the pandemic situation, Modi sought to address most burning aspects of the issue, ranging from India�s vaccine readiness to its pricing, and reiterated that the country has done better than even some developed countries and those with better health infrastructure in tackling the pandemic.
Noting that there have been questions about the price of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Prime Minister said it is natural to have such queries and asserted that public health will be accorded top priority in the matter and states will be fully involved.
This was the second all-party meeting called by the government over the pandemic issue since its outbreak.
The Union Health Ministry gave a presentation in the meeting. It said the vaccine, when it becomes available, will be first given to about one crore health workers from both the public and private sectors, and then to about two crore frontline workers.
Modi said nearly eight vaccine candidates, three of which are indigenous, are at different stages of trial and will be manufactured in India.
Speaking about his interaction with Indian scientists involved in developing the vaccine and his visit to Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad facilities where work is on in this regard, Modi said they are very confident of success.
Their confidence level is very strong, Modi said, adding that various vaccines from different countries may be being spoken about but the world is keeping a watch on having a vaccine which is cheap and also safest.
That is why, he said, it is natural that the world is looking at India, a global centre for mass manufacturing of different vaccines at a very affordable cost. � PTI