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The fast development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus and its launch by India was a landmark exercise in the world's endeavour to turn healthy and disease-free, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

PM Modi today thanked his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa for his appreciation on the launch of the world's largest coronavirus vaccination drive.

In a Twitter exchange, PM Modi said, "Thank you @PresRajapaksa. The tireless efforts of our scientists and frontline workers have played a crucial role in the fight against this pandemic. The fast development of vaccine and its launch is an important landmark in our joint endeavour for a healthy and disease-free world."

Earlier, Rajapaksa had congratulated PM Modi on Saturday for the massive vaccination launch.

"Congratulations PM @narendramodi and the Government of India on taking this very important step with this massive #COVID19Vaccination drive. We are starting to see the beginning of the end to this devastating pandemic. @IndiainSL," tweeted Rajapaksa.

The vaccine shots of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines were administered at various medical centres all across India on 16 January.

PM Modi launched the pan-India rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday via video conferencing.

Launching the massive inoculation exercise, which saw nearly two lakh people being administered the Covid-19 vaccine, PM Modi said India was among the few countries in the world that, despite all the difficulties during the pandemic, ensured that "essential medicines and medical help reached around 150 nations".

The Indian Covid-19 vaccine drive is billed as the world's largest vaccination programme, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first inoculate 3 lakh healthcare and frontline workers.

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