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Do not skip the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, says Dr Harsh Vardhan

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He also requested the states to set aside 70 per cent of the vaccines received through the Government of India (GoI) channel for administration of the second dose

Reiterating the importance of full protection through two COVID vaccine doses, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan today appealed to all citizens to get the second dose which boosts the immunity against COVID manifold. He also requested the states to set aside 70 per cent of the vaccines received through the Government of India (GoI) channel for administration of the second dose.

Speaking at the 25th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19, he informed, “The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 16.73 crores today which includes nearly 23 lakh doses given yesterday. A total of 17,49,57,770 doses have been delivered to the states, out of which 16,65,49,583 doses have been consumed and 84,08,187 doses are still available with the states. He further added that a total of 53,25,000 doses are on the pipeline and will be supplied to the states soon.

He also stated that there are more than three lakh recoveries in the last 24 hours and 180 districts have showed no fresh cases in the last seven days, while 18 districts in 14 days, 54 districts in 21 days and 32 districts were bereft of any fresh cases in the last 28 days.

“The number of patients on ICU beds is 4,88,861 while 1,70,841 patients and 9,02,291 patients are on ventilator and oxygen support,” he added.

Regarding the tests being conducted in India, the Union Health Minister noted that the country has reached a testing capacity of 25,00,000 tests per day. He informed that a total of 30,60,18,044 tests have been conducted so far in India, which includes 18,08,344 tests in the last 24 hours. From just one lab at NIV Pune, the country is currently served by 2,514 labs.

Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) highlighted the COVID trajectory of India vis-a-vis that of other countries. He underscored the need and importance of significantly ramping up testing and hospital infrastructure in tier-II/III cities in view of the surge in cases which has seen a shift to these regions/areas too.

Besides, it was highlighted in the meeting that the districts/metropolis of Bengaluru (urban), Ganjam, Pune, Delhi, Nagpur, Mumbai, Ernakulam, Lucknow, Kozhikode (Calicut), Thane, Nashik, Malappuram, Thrissur, Jaipur, Gurugram, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandrapur, Kolkata, Palakkad are the top 20 contributors of active cases in the country.

Further, emphasis on timely provision of clinical care in high-transmission areas to reduce morbidity and mortality, advance preparedness in anticipation of rise in cases, increase in testing using RAT and tracing of those who might have contracted the infection, emphasis on clinic-epidemiological linkage of genomic surveillance with transmission dynamics, clinical severity and age profile of new cases were highlighted as important steps ahead.

Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog highlighted the various efforts made towards ramping of hospital infrastructure for effective clinical management of hospitalised patients. Urgent steps to halt transmission by intensified containment through community-led effort and restrictions, improvement of messaging breadth and reach to curb panic and free flow of misinformation, promotion of home care in COVID and demystification of treatment to reduce load on hospitals, rational use of remdesivir, oxygen and other drugs, the augmentation of railway coaches as isolation beds, enhanced focus on rural COVID care were presented. The progress on epidemiological evidence, new technical advisories for dynamic guidance and handholding of states/UTs etc., through various stakeholders was also enumerated.

In addition to it, Giridhar Aramane, Secretary, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways presented the current scenario of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) production, allocation and supply. He stated that the production of LMO has been maximised to meet the present demand of COVID patients. The domestic production has increased to more than 9400 MT/day, he stated. Steps to import LMO, status of establishment of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants through support of PMCARES fund with the support of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), enhancement of tanker availability, the functioning of the web portal and mobile application for real-time tracking of LMO tankers, were also enumerated by him.

Others present in the meeting included Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs; Hardeep S Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation; Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways (I/C), and Chemical and Fertilizers and Nityanand Rai, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare and V K Paul had joined the meeting virtually.

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