Emphasising on improved healthcare facilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that preparations were in full swing across the country to make coronavirus vaccine available to all.

After laying the foundation stone of a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Gujarat's Rajkot via videoconference, Modi said: "In 2020, there was a question mark from all sides due to Covid-19 pandemic. But 2021 is coming with the hope of treatment of Covid-19."

He said that he was hopeful that the way in which India fought unitedly against the infection, it would similarly work hard to make the vaccination programme successful. Appreciating Indians on being united to help each other during the time of crisis. 

"The way in which people took proper steps is the reason why we are in good condition even amid the pandemic, despite a 1.3 billion population. More than one crore people have fought the pandemic and won. India's record is much better than other countries in the fight against Covid-19," he said.

He said that the number of infections in India was going down, yet people should not let their guard down and strictly follow coronavirus safety measures even after vaccination, he added. 

Pointing out that 'health is wealth', Modi said: "This year taught us this maxim. When there is an attack on health, it affects the family and the entire society comes in its grip."

The Prime Minister also said that it was time to remember on the last day of the outgoing year the frontline warriors who safeguarded people while risking their lives. "I pay my humble tributes to all frontline warriors who lost their lives in the line of duty," Modi said, adding that the country also paid tributes to scientists, workers, doctors involved in the fight against Covid-19 and those working tirelessly for developing a vaccine for coronavirus.

Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer applications for the emergency-use approval for the covid-19 vaccines were held up for consideration by a government-appointed experts panel on Wednesday.

'Covishield' being manufactured by Serum Institute is being developed by Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech which has collaborated with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for its 'Covaxin' have presented their report before the panel whereas Pfizer has asked for more time to present their data. The vaccine approval applications once cleared by the expert panel will move to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for final approval. The government wants to start administering the shots starting next month.

"In the last six years, we've started work on 10 new AIIMS, out of which some are already functional. Apart from AIIMS, 20 super speciality hospitals are also being built in the country," the Prime Minister said.

For the new AIIMS project in Rajkot costing Rs 1,195 crore, 201 acres of land has been allotted. It is expected to be completed by mid-2022. The state-of-the-art 750-bed hospital will have 30-bed AAYUSH block, offering 125 MBBS and 60 nursing seats to students.

India, which has the world's second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world after the United States, plans to vaccinate 30 crore people in the next six to eight months and the affordable Oxford vaccine is its biggest hope.


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