New Delhi, Mar 6 (efe-epa).- Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, 85, received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in India and urged the rest of the population to have the “courage” to do the same.
The Dalai Lama was administered the vaccine at a hospital in the city of Dharamshala, in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, according to a video released by the spiritual leader’s office.
The video shows the Tibetan leader receiving the vaccine.
He said he decided to get vaccinated on the suggestion of “trusted friends”, including his doctor, as it is “very, very helpful” in preventing any “serious problems” related to the pandemic.
“Other patients also should take this injection, for greater benefit. It is very important. I took that so I want to share (that) more people should have courage to take this injection,” he said.
The Dalai Lama received the vaccine days after India extended the vaccination drive on Monday to those over the age of 60 and adults over 45 with comorbidities such as heart problems or diabetes.
The country did so after inoculating some 14 million health-care workers and those in the front-line in the fight against the pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also received his first dose on the first day of the new phase of the campaign.
“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” he urged.
The country, which has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 infections after the United States, plans to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people in the first half of the year with the two vaccines approved for use within its territory.
These include Covishield, which has been jointly developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and Covaxin, developed by the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech.
India has recorded 18,327 new Covid-19 cases and 108 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 11.19 million and deaths to 157,656 since the start of the pandemic.
These numbers are far from the record of nearly 100,000 positive cases per day registered in September.
However, the recent uptick in cases in several states such as Maharashtra in the west and Kerala in the south has become a matter of concern for the authorities. EFE-EPA