By Health In Five Writer
There was finally some good news for coronavirus pandemic-ravaged India as Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan assured the Parliament that more than four vaccines are currently under trial. On Monday, India’s Covid-19 tally crossed 5.49 million mark with the addition of 92,605 new cases. There has already been 87,882 deaths caused by the novel coronavirus.
Harsh Vardhan said in Parliament on Sunday (September 20) that the government is giving all necessary support for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease in the country and that three vaccine candidates are in different phases of clinical trial.
“One hundred and forty-five vaccine candidates across the world are under pre-clinical evaluation, around 35 under clinical trials. In India, we gave all support to 30 vaccine candidates – three of these are in advanced trials of phases 1, 2, and 3. Over four in advanced stages of the pre-clinical trial,” Harsh Vardhan said in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the coronavirus pandemic.
The government is closely tracking the progress of candidates being tested by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited and Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is one of the frontrunners in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine in India. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has struck a production and clinical trials deal with AstraZeneca for the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has till now been tested in the most number of people among the close to 200 options across the world.
The health minister also listed out a series of steps taken to contain the spread of the viral infection and combat the pandemic in the country.
“On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world about such disease. But we had started work from January 8. By January 17, we had issued a detailed health advisory and started point of entry surveillance and community surveillance. On January 30, when the first case in India was reported, authorities did 162 contact tracing,” he said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said so far 63.7 million tests have been conducted in the country which is “probably the highest in the world”.
“Even today, 40 lakh people were kept under community surveillance. Contract tracing of more than 1 crore people was done. Fifteen lakh people were screened at airports. When the first case in Nepal was reported, 16 lakh people were screened on the border. From March 16 to March 23, more than half of the states have imposed partial or complete lockdown,” he added.
He said that the ministry of health and family welfare has received Rs 893.93 crore from PM-CARES Fund for 50,000 made in India ventilators. The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) under the National Disaster Relief Fund made the provision of Rs 11,000 crore to all state governments wherein the State Disaster Management Funds could be used.
The Union minister said there are 17,000 Covid-19 facilities in the country which have nearly 1.8 million beds, 13,000 quarantine centres have 600,000 beds. To handle pandemic like this in the future, Harsh Vardhan said that work has started under Atmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat in which Rs 65,000 crore package has been allocated.
India’s tally of the coronavirus disease went past the 5.4 million mark and the death toll rose to 86,752, according to the health ministry’s data till Sunday.