New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed the nation amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and defended the vaccination drive launched by his government on January 16. Lauding the healthcare workers and frontline staff, the Prime Minister called COVID-19 the biggest crisis faced by humanity in the last 100 years.

PM Modi, who has addressed the nation several times since the outbreak of the pandemic, also announced a uniform vaccine drive under which the Centre will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to all states and union territories (UTs) from June 21. He also extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Diwali, saying it will benefit 80 crore beneficiaries.

Here are the key highlights from PM Modi's address to the nation:

* This is the deadliest pandemic in the past 100 years. The modern world has not seen such a pandemic. Our country has fought this pandemic at many levels.

* New health infrastructure has been developed in the 1.5 years with COVID hospitals, ventilators beds, to preparing a network of testing labs. During the 2nd wave in April-May, demand for medical oxygen increased at an unprecedented rate.

* There is a very less number of vaccine manufacturers in the world compared to its demand. Imagine what would have happened in India if we didn't have vaccines. If you look at the history of the last 50-60 years, you will know that it used to take decades for India to get vaccines from abroad.

* In the last one year, India launched two made-in-India vaccines. Today more than 23 crore vaccine doses administered.

* If you look at the history of the last 50-60 years, it used to take India decades to get the vaccines from abroad. Vaccine work used to be completed abroad, even then vaccination work could not start in our country.

* Vaccine supply will be increasing in the coming days. Seven companies in the country are producing different vaccines, 3 vaccine trials at an advanced stage.

* To increase vaccine availability, the process of procuring vaccines from abroad has been sped up. Experts have also expressed concerns about children. In this direction, the trial of two vaccines is underway. Research is being conducted for a nasal vaccine in the country.

* 25 per cent of vaccination work with states will now be handled by the Centre, it will be implemented in the coming two weeks. Both State and Centre to work as per new guidelines in the coming two weeks. From June 21 June, free vaccines for people above 18 years.

* Private hospitals can only charge Rs 150 as a service charge on vaccines.

* Government has decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Diwali. 80 crore poor will be provided free ration, under the scheme.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma