New Delhi: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said that the decision on booster doses of Covid vaccines and vaccination of children will be taken after scientific advice.
Replying to a marathon debate in the Lok Sabha on the Covid-19 pandemic situation and various related issues that began on Thursday, he said that the concerns were expressed by members over booster doses and vaccination of the kids, but they should trust the scientists, who, by their tireless efforts, produced vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year’s time.
Noting that India’s death rate per million in the pandemic per million was lowest in the world, he said that total deaths reported were 4.6 lakh which was only 1.36 per cent of the total number of infected people.
“A total of 3.46 crore coronavirus cases have been reported in India and 4.6 lakh people died – this is 1.36 per cent of total cases. 25,000 cases and 340 deaths per million population reported in India – this is one of the lowest in the world,” Mandaviya said.
He also claimed that before the Covid period, the health infrastructure in the country was “very weak” and this was strengthened under the Modi government, and a robust health infrastructure created in the last two years to face the challenge like Covid-19.
He also said that there were only 16,000 ventilators in the country before 2020. During the first and second wave of this pandemic, it was analysed that there were need of around 75,000 ventilators in the country and immediately an order for 58,000 ventilators were placed and around 48,000 ventilators have already sent to the states and they have also sent the receipt of these life saving equipment, he further said.
Saying that the Modi government works not on power but “willpower”, the Minister also said that without considering that health was a state subject, the Centre provided oxygen cylinders/containers, medicine, and adequate funds to the states so that the fight against Covid was not weakened.
“We provided over a lakh oxygen concentrators to the states and also ensured setting up of oxygen generating plants in each district hospital with adequate storage capacity… funds of Rs 70,240 crore were provided to them,” he told the house.
He also said that a total of 3,829 PSA units under PMCARES fund have been getting set up and 70 per cent of these are working as of now.
“The adult population in the country is 94 crore. 79 crore have got the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, 46 crore have got both the doses,” the Minister said.
He also said that there has not been a shortage of vaccines in the country and to get the entire population vaccinated, the state governments, and the MPs can play an instrumental role in this.
About the new Corona variant Omicron, he said that this was reported during the last week of November in South Africa and the World Health Organisation on November 26 declared it as ‘variant of concern’ but on November 25, PM Modi chaired a meeting on the new variant with all stakeholders.
“On November 26, the Centre wrote to all states and Union Territories for effective measures to be taken and on December 1, the new guidelines has been effected at 16 airports where RT-PCR tests have been made compulsory for passengers coming from certain countries,” the Minister said.
Mandaviya also informed that earlier around 30 days time was required for a genome sequencing but “thanks to our scientists and our labs, now it takes only 30 hours”.
He added that 16,000 passengers from ‘at-risk’ countries were tested, 18 found Covid positive and genome sequencing for Omicron is underway of these 18 samples.