Narendra Modi says COVID-19 vaccine may be ready in few weeks, Centre to prioritise 1 cr frontline workers

As research gets closer to the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine, in India too, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that a vaccine may be ready in a few weeks. He also noted that experts believe the wait for it will not be long and asserted that the vaccination drive in India will begin as soon as scientists give the nod.

In his remarks at an all-party meeting held virtually to discuss India’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy, Modi said healthcare workers involved in treating coronavirus patients, frontline workers, who include police personnel and municipal staff, and old people suffering from serious conditions would be inoculated on priority.

The Union health ministry on Friday said that Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of active COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country. Meanwhile, the countrywide caseload rose to 95.71 lakh with 36,595 new cases reported on Friday.

Additionally, the recovery rate rose to 94.20 percent with a total of more than 90 lakh COVID-19 patients having recovered from the infection so far. On the other hand, the toll climbed to 1,39,188 with 540 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. The COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45 percent.

Modi says vaccination to begin after scientists’ nod

In the all-party meeting held on Friday, Opposition leaders like Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad said that a COVID-like pandemic can pose a threat to the country’s internal security and policymakers should address this challenge.

Azad, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and a former Union health minister, said that the country should be well placed to get vaccines at affordable prices and at an early stage.

In his concluding address at the meeting called by the Union government to discuss the pandemic situation, Modi sought to address most burning aspects of the issue, ranging from India’s vaccine readiness to its pricing and reiterated that the country has done better than even some developed countries and those with better health infrastructure in tackling the pandemic.

Noting that there have been questions about the price of the COVID-19 vaccine, the prime minister said it is natural to have such queries and asserted that public health will be accorded top priority in the matter and states will be fully involved.

This is the second all-party meeting called by the government over the pandemic issue since its outbreak.

The Union Health Ministry gave a presentation at the meeting. It said the vaccine, when it becomes available, will be first given to about one crore health workers from both the public and private sectors, and then to about two crore frontline workers.

Modi said nearly eight vaccine candidates, three of which are indigenous, are at different stages of trial and will be manufactured in India.

Speaking about his interaction with Indian scientists involved in developing the vaccine and his visit to Pune, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad facilities where work is on in this regard, Modi said they are very confident of success.

“Their confidence level is very strong,” he said, adding that various vaccines from different countries may be being spoken about but the world is keeping a watch on having a vaccine that is cheap and also the safest.

That is why, he said, it is natural that the world is looking at India, a global centre for mass manufacturing of different vaccines at a very affordable cost.

In his remarks at the meeting, TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay said that state governments have been cooperating with the Centre to fight the pandemic and in many cases, they are coming up with ideas to prevent the spread of the disease.

“In West Bengal, the situation is being monitored categorically,” he said.

‘COVID-19 vaccine to be first given to about 1 cr health workers’

The COVID-19 vaccine will be first given to about one crore health workers from both the public and private sectors, including doctors and nurses, and then to about two crore frontline workers such as police and armed forces personnel, and municipal workers, among others, the Union Health Ministry said in its presentation at the all-party meet on Friday, PTI reported.

The presentation was given by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at the meeting, which was chaired by Modi.

According to sources, 13 leaders from prominent political parties having five or more than five MPs, spoke at the meeting. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad will speak on behalf of the Congress at the meet, they said.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay from the TMC, Sharad Pawar of the NCP, Nama Nageswara Rao from the TRS, and Vinayak Raut from the Shiv Sena, among others were scheduled to speak during the meeting, PTI quoted sources as saying.

Centre says Maharashtra accounts for most active COVID-19 cases, deaths

In terms of active cases, Maharashtra is followed by Kerala with 61,342 cases and Delhi with 29,120 cases. As far as the number of fatalities is concerned, Maharashtra is followed by Karnataka (11,821) and Delhi (9,424).

Maharashtra also accounts for the highest number of recoveries so far which is over 17 lakh. It is followed by Andhra Pradesh (8,56,320) and Karnataka (8,52,584).

The health ministry said 80.19 percent of the new recovered cases reported in a span of 24 hours are contributed by 10 states and Union territories — Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.

Maharashtra leads with 8,066 persons recovering from COVID-19, while Kerala recorded 5,590 recoveries and Delhi 4,834.

Ten states and UTs contributed 75.76 percent of the new cases reported in a span of 24 hours — Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Kerala reported 5,376 new cases in the 24-hour span. Maharashtra registered 5,182 new cases, while Delhi recorded 3,734 new infections during the period.

The ministry said 540 fatalities were reported in the span of 24 hours, with 77.78 percent of them from 10 states and UTs — Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

It said 21.29 percent of the new fatalities were reported from Maharashtra (115). Delhi saw a fatality count of 82, while West Bengal reported 49 new deaths.

When compared globally, India has one of the lowest case fatalities per million population at 101.

India also continues to have one of the lowest cases per million population in the world at 6,936, which is much lower than many other countries of the Western Hemisphere, the ministry said.

State-wise details

The active COVID-19 caseload continued to remain below 5 lakh. There are 4,16,082 active coronavirus infections in the country which comprises 4.35 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August, 30 lakh on 23 August and 40 lakh on 5 September.

It went past 50 lakh on 16 September, 60 lakh on 28 September, 70 lakh on 11 October, crossed 80 lakh on 29 October, and surpassed 90 lakh on 20 November.

According to the ICMR, 14,47,27,749 samples have been tested up to 3 December with 11,70,102 samples being tested on Thursday.

The 540 new fatalities include 115 from Maharashtra, 82 from Delhi,49 from West Bengal, 32 from Haryana, 31 each from Kerala and Uttar Pradesh,22 from Chhattisgarh and 20 each from Punjab and Rajasthan.

A total of 1,39,188 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 47,472 from Maharashtra followed by 11,821 from Karnataka, 11,747 from Tamil Nadu, 9,424 fromDelhi, 8,576 from West Bengal, 7,848 from Uttar Pradesh, 7,014 from Andhra Pradesh, 4,862 from Punjab, 4,031 from Gujarat and 3,300 from Madhya Pradesh.

With inputs from PTI

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