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Preparations are on in full swing to roll out vaccines for covid-19 in India and efforts are being made to ensure that they quickly reach all those who need it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.

The year 2020 became a symbol of gloom because of the outbreak of coronavirus but 2021 comes with the hope of a cure, he said.

People should not get taken in by “rumours and lies" that could be spread when the vaccination programme gains pace, the Prime Minister said during a virtual foundation-stone laying of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rajkot, Gujarat, which is being built at an estimated cost 1,195 crore and is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

“The year 2020 was when we had the gloom of infection and there were concerns. Everywhere there was a question mark and that became symbolic of the year. The year 2021 is coming with the hope of cure. All preparations are going on in the country with respect to the vaccine. Efforts are in the final stages to ensure that the vaccine made in India reaches all important sections swiftly," Modi said.

“India’s preparations to run the largest vaccination programme is at high pace. I am confident that the way we came together in the year that went by to take on the disease, in the same way, we will take efforts and go forward together to ensure that the vaccination programme runs smoothly," he said.

The last day of 2020 is dedicated to those who were on the frontline in the battle against the pandemic, he said.

The Prime Minister’s statement comes at a time when vaccines are in the approval stage in the country. A subject expert committee on Wednesday is currently analysing data submitted by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech International in support of their request for emergency licences for their vaccines.

“It is possible that when vaccine work starts, there can be a lot of rumours and imagined lies. Some of it has already started also. Some people with ill-intent spread these rumours with a lot of conviction. I request everyone to not believe rumours in this fight against covid-19. We should not forward messages without checking," he said.

The reference was to rumours being spread by anti-vaccine campaigners in India and elsewhere in the world.

Modi said that the entire world has to come together to tackle the covid-19 pandemic as one can “no longer work in silos" in the current situation. India is one such global player, which has shown the potential to “adapt, evolve and expand" keeping in mind the demand.

The Prime Minister said that the focus of the Union government after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power at the Centre in 2014 has been to ensure that poor people spend less on healthcare. The focus of the healthcare sector has been on “holistic ground changes" with a stress on preventive care and advanced technologies.

“Some people may have questions on why the focus of our schemes such as Ayushman Bharat and Jan Aushadhi Kendras has been on saving people’s money on healthcare. Medical expense has always been a big cause of worry. When a poor person is ill, there is a high possibility that he would never go for a cure. Whether the cause is lack of money or other expenses in the house, access to healthcare services is the biggest strength that people have got," the Prime Minister said.

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