Celebrate Festivals At Home, Follow Guidelines: Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday warned the people of the country to stay away from large congregations and follow the guidelines issued by the government regarding precautions in view of the upcoming festival season.

According to an official release, Dr Harsh Vardhan requested people to celebrate upcoming festivals at home, with their loved ones, instead of going out to fairs and pandals.

Speaking at his ‘Sunday Samvaad’ programme, he said the possibility of increased novel coronavirus transmission during winters as it is a respiratory virus and the transmission of respiratory viruses is known to increase during the colder weather.

“These viruses are known to thrive better in the cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too,” he noted.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also gave an update on the rollout of the FELUDA Test in the near future. “While I cannot put an exact date on the availability, we should expect this test within the next few weeks”, he said.

On the issue of how the government plans to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine by prioritizing target groups in the entire population, he said, “In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritize vaccine delivery based on various factors such as per risk of exposure, comorbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among COVID Cases, and several others.”

On the issue of Emergency Use Authorization of COVID vaccines in India, the Minister said that the issue is being deliberated at present. “Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorization vaccine approval for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated,” he added.

He informed that COVID-19 Vaccines currently in trial in India are 2 dose and 3 dose vaccines. Vaccine by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech require 2 Doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires 3 Doses. For other vaccines in preclinical stages, the dosing is being tested, he stated. (ANI)

On the need to include other novel candidates as COVID Vaccine, he said, “Considering the large population size of India, one vaccine or vaccine manufacturer will not be able to fulfil the requirements of vaccinating the whole country. Therefore, we are open to assessing the feasibility of introducing several COVID-19 vaccines in the country as per their availability for the Indian population.”

The Minister requested people to not share any content related to health & safety without double-checking its veracity. He added that as we learn more about the novel coronavirus and more vaccine candidates start their Phase II and Phase III Trials, there is bound to be a lot of fake and incorrect news on social media that is perpetrated by people with vested interests.

Discussing the new development on eSanjeevani platform, he said, “eSanjeevani has over 12,000 practitioners of various State Government Health Departments and their services have been sought so far by people from 510 districts, across 26 states in the country. While the first 1 Lakh consultations on the platform took around 3 months, the last 1 Lakh consultations have come up in well under 3 weeks, which is a great achievement.”

During the Sunday Samvaad conversation, Dr Harsh Vardhan shared that in the first phase the Government of India has released Rs 3000 Crores to States and UTs to battle COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all, except three States/UTs, have utilized the complete grant given to them: Maharashtra has only used 42.5per cent of the grant followed by Chandigarh at 47.8per cent and Delhi at 75.4per cent, he stated. (ANI)

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