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Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health (ANI)
Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health (ANI)

Pandemic going at devastating pace, Covid-19 vaccine needs time for trials: Govt

  • No specific drug or vaccine is available for the virus so far, the health ministry said
  • India is conducting 479 tests per day per million population for detection of coronavirus, the govt added

The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday briefed the media on the Covid-19 situation in the country. In terms of Covid-19 vaccine situation, Health Ministry, Rajesh Bhushan said that no specific drug or vaccine is available for the virus so far.

Moreover, on the Covid-19 vaccine and availability of the vaccine in India, Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research said," Need of the vaccine is great and urgent and the pandemic is progressing rapidly at a devastating pace and developing the vaccine takes time."

However, he also added that 141 candidates in the world and 26 are in phase trials while India has three candidates at different phase trials currently.

The latest to join is the Oxford vaccine, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India that got approval for phase 2 and 3 clinical trial. The trials will be starting within a week at 17 sites, Dr Bhargava said.

"At the present moment, we have three Indian vaccines which are in different phases of clinical testing. The 2 vaccines- Bharat Biotech vaccine & DNA vaccine of Zydus Cadila have completed phase 1 and will begin phase 2 while third is Oxford vaccine," he added.

ICMR director also stressed on the point that till the potential Covid-19 vaccine is available and even after that, sustainable social distancing and wearing of the mask remains the best Covid-19 vaccine.

Apart from that, the health ministry said that India is conducting 479 tests per day per million population for detection of coronavirus. Additionally, 28 states and union territories are performing more than 140 virus tests per day per million population, added the ministry.

Cumulative positivity of India is 8.89%. States with positivity less than 10% are Punjab, Rajasthan, MP, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, West Bengal and Karnataka. Last week's positivity of India was 11% which means a few states are showing rise in Covid-19 cases, said Secretary,

India's Covid-19 fatality rate has also progressively declined to 2.10%, the lowest since first lockdown, the ministry added.

Many states have increased their testing capacity, both RT - PCR & Rapid Antigen tests. Goa, Delhi, Tripura, and Tamil Nadu have increased their testing capacity, said Bhushan.

More than 2 crore Covid-19 tests have been conducted, including more than 6.6 lakh tests in the last 24 hours. Recovered cases are now double of the active cases.

Moreover, the ministry also said that analyse the data and mount responses which are data driven in order to know the epidemic, state and district-wise.

On the need for ventilators and the availability, the health ministry said that in 2019, Indian ventilator market was roughly estimated as 8,510 units valued at 444.74 crore. Because of Covid-19 pandemic this year, in March domestic manufacturers imported various components. "It wouldn't have been possible to make ventilators without import then," Bhushan said.

However, he added that the country is comfortable with the number of ventilators required and available in India. Technical committee under DGHS to issue minimum specifications for ICU ventilators and ventilator supplies were approved only after clinical validation.

Meanwhile, India's Covid-19 tally reached 18,55,475 today, with 52,050 cases being reported in a day. Recoveries rose to 12,30,509, including 44,306 in past 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry data. There are 5,86,298 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country presently while the recovery rate among Covid-19 patients has gone up to 65.76%.

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