By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 6: Buddhist spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the first dose of Covid-19 Vaccine at the Zonal hospital in Dharamshala around 7 am on Saturday, marking the first high profile individual in the region to publicly endorse the vaccination drive of the nation against the deadly virus.
The 85-year-old said that he is following the advice of trusted friends from the medical community to get the jab which he described to be “very helpful” and “very good”. “Other patients should take this injection for the greater benefit [of the community]. I want to share that more people should have the courage to take this injection,” the Dalai Lama said in a recorded video released by his private office today.
Kangra district’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gurdarshan Gupta told reporters that His Holiness declined the offer to be vaccinated at his residence and decided to come to the vaccination center “like a common man” and that he will be given the booster shot after 28 days as per protocol. The Dalai Lama did not experience any side effects from the jab within the half an hour observation time, the CMO added.
The 85-year old was administered the COVISHIELD vaccine from the Oxford-AstraZeneca stable manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII). Covishield has an efficacy of 70.4 percent on an average against the virus, as per the interim analysis of its late-stage clinical trials.
This is the first outing for the Tibetan leader since the pandemic began. His last public outing was in January 2020 when he returned from a religious event in from Bodh Gaya.
Despite the commencement of the vaccination drive in India, experts say that inoculation of the country’s 1.3 billion people is a mammoth task that may take months if not years. On Monday, authorities kick-started the second phase of India’s vaccination drive. Anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 but with comorbidities that make them prone to the virus can approach government and private hospitals for shots from March 1, the Union Health Ministry announced. While the doses will be administered for free at government facilities, private hospitals can charge up to ₹250 per dose.