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India prepared to authorise COVID-19 vaccines: Union Health Minister

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday, 19 December, announced that India is at the cusp of authorizing the first set of Covid-19...

India prepared to authorise COVID-19 vaccines: Union Health Minister
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday, 19 December, announced that India is at the cusp of authorizing the first set of Covid-19 vaccines and expressed the need for an expeditious vaccination drive to cover all the target populations estimated to be around 30 crores.
The Minister made the announcement while chairing the 22nd meeting of the High-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 through a video-conference here as India crossed the one crore infection mark.

He was virtually joined by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of State Health & Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, Member (Health) NITI Aayog Vinod K. Paul, Advisers to the Prime Minister Amarjeet Sinha and Bhaskar Khulbe.

Reiterating his concern and appeal to diligently maintain a Covid appropriate behavior, the Health Minister said we should follow coronavirus guidelines even at a time "when the country is at the cusp of authorizing the first set of vaccines".

He also expressed the need for an expeditious vaccination drive to cover all the target populations estimated to be around 30 crores.

Expressing deep gratitude to all Covid warriors, who have been steadfast in their duty without any fatigue throughout the pandemic which is in its 12th month, Vardhan informed his colleagues of the progress made by the country's public health system against the pandemic and the encouraging results so far.

The Minister said that India's Covid-19 pandemic growth has dropped to 2 percent and the case fatality rate is amongst the lowest in the world at 1.45 percent.

"India's Recovery Rate has peaked to 95.46 percent, while the strategy of testing 1 million samples has decreased the Cumulative Positivity Rate to 6.25 percent," he added.

Observing the fact that despite festivals in October and November, Vardhan said no new surge of cases was observed in this period due to comprehensive testing, tracking, and treatment policy implemented on the ground.

Sujeet K. Singh, Director (NCDC), presented a detailed report on how the data-driven graded government policies have helped India achieve significant control over the pandemic.

He showed figures related to the number of cases, deaths, growth rates, and how they compared favorably to the rest of the world which is witnessing a meteoric rise in these parameters.

Singh presented a granular analysis of the trajectory of the pandemic in each state pointing out critical parameters like positivity, RAT, and RT-PCR percent breakup, the concentration of cases in particular districts, and other trends like a fatality, and fatality within 48 and 72 hours of hospitalization.

He also presented data on the total dedicated Covid-19 facilities in the country.

Through a detailed presentation, NITI Aayog member Paul apprised the GoM on three critical aspects of vaccination; the process of a pre-clinical and clinical trial of all vaccines, the details of the six vaccine candidates undergoing trial in India (in terms of composition, manufacturers, and technical partners, numbers of doses, conditions for storage and efficacy) and the composition of target populations in India, in terms of age, occupation and co-morbidities and how they compare with other countries and WHO's recommendations.

He briefed the GoM about requests for vaccines received by the Ministry of External Affairs from 12 other countries.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted the importance of Health Seeking Behaviour among the population as a key driver in checking fatality.

Explaining the paradox of some states and Union Territories reporting very high cases but minimal fatalities while others reporting low cases but comparatively high fatalities, Paul said that this phenomenon results from people not coming forward for testing even if they are symptomatic in the second category of states.
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