Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama receives COVID vaccine

The 85-year-old was inoculated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and encouraged others to get vaccinated.

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, receives a dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination centre in Dharamsala, India [Office of his holiness the Dalai Lama Handout via Reuters]

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has encouraged people to get vaccinated as he receives the first shot of a jab against the coronavirus.

“In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful,” the 85-year-old said after being inoculated on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian town of Dharmsala.

“More people should have the courage to take this injection,” he added.

GD Gupta of Zonal Hospital, where the shot was administered, told reporters the Dalai Lama was observed for 30 minutes afterwards.

“He offered to come to the hospital like a common man to get himself vaccinated,” he said.

Ten other people who live in the Dalai Lama’s residence were also vaccinated, Gupta said.

All eleven received the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and manufactured by India’s Serum Institute – the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

India has confirmed more than 11 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 157,000 related deaths.

The country, which has the second-highest caseload in the world behind the United States, rolled out its vaccination drive in January, starting with healthcare and front-line workers. Earlier this month, it expanded its inoculation drive to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk.

The Dalai Lama made Dharmsala his headquarters in 1959, fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China does not recognise the Tibetan government-in-exile and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the region’s native Buddhist culture.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies