COVID-19: Centre says don’t lower guard, pandemic not yet over
No shortage of COVID vaccine doses, clarifies health ministry
New Delhi: India recorded its highest daily figure of COVID-19 cases this year with 22,854 new infections, prompting the Centre to ask people not to lower guard as the pandemic was not yet over and also embrace vaccines.
The total number of cases went up to 1,12,85,561 while the death toll increased to 1,58,189 with 126 daily new fatalities, according to Union Health ministry data updated on Thursday.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,09,38,146 which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 96.92 percent, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.40 percent, the data stated.
Expressing concern over the rise in active cases in a few states, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul termed as “worrisome” the situation, especially in Maharashtra, where strict lockdown measures will be enforced in some parts.
“Don’t take this virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly. If we have to remain free of this virus, COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy as well as vaccination has to be brought in,” he said.
He advised that in districts where COVID-19 cases are seemingly on the rise, vaccination of eligible individuals should be intensified and prioritised.
Sounding a word of caution for Delhi and its neighbourhood, Paul said the national capital is seeing a rise in positivity rate, so is Gurgaon, Faridabad and to an extent Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad.
“Be careful, be watchful. We still have a huge population at risk of this virus. This pandemic is not yet over. Be vigilant,” he said.
“Today, using the force of vaccination, we are in a position to give a stronger fight (to the pandemic). We plead again, do not lower your guard and please embrace the vaccines that are available,” Paul added.
In Delhi, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava, when asked at a press conference whether a mutant strain of the coronavirus is responsible for the rise in cases, said it has not been found incriminating in the surge in Maharashtra.
“At the moment, it is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing as well as COVID-inappropriate behaviour and large congregations,” he said.
The Union Health Ministry on Thursday also clarified that there is no shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses in any state in the country so far.
Responding to a question on the Rajasthan government’s claim that there is a shortage in COVID-19 vaccine stock, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the central government regularly monitors the availability of vaccine supply in all states and UTs and their consumption on a daily basis.
The vaccine stock availability is reviewed every morning.
“Data of the usage and consumption of COVID-19 vaccine comes from states. The central government does not vaccinate people. It just makes the vaccines available at free of cost in government facilities and at a fixed rate in private health facilities.
“According to data available as part of the daily review meeting held today morning, and even three days ago, there was no shortage of COVID-19 vaccine in any state in the country,” he said.
On reducing the price of COVID-19 vaccine Covisheild, Bhushan said, “We have renegotiated the price for the vaccine. The earlier price was Rs 210, including taxes. After that, we have renegotiated the price, which is significantly lower than Rs 200.”
The manufacturer of Covishield (Serum Institute of India Ltd.) has agreed to supply 10 crore doses at a price of Rs 150 plus GST per dose for priority group of population above 60 years and those aged between 45 to 60 years with comorbidity, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey recently said in a written reply at Rajya Sabha.