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Battle against Covid pandemic is far from over

Battle against Covid pandemic is far from over
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Battle against Covid pandemic is far from over

Highlights

According to the Union Health Ministry on September 27, COVID-19 claimed 1,124 lives (in 24 hours), which pushed the country’s fatality count to 94,503

According to the Union Health Ministry on September 27, COVID-19 claimed 1,124 lives (in 24 hours), which pushed the country's fatality count to 94,503. The ministry had said on September 26 that 75 per cent of COVID-19 cases were found concentrated in 10 States and union territories - Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.

The ministry also said that India had conducted a total of seven crore (70 million) tests for the detection of coronavirus infection till September 25 with the country's testing capacity having crossed 14 lakh (1.4 million) tests daily. Asserting that India has substantially ramped up its testing infrastructure, it said as on date, there were 1,823 laboratories, including 1,086 government and 737 private ones.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on September 26 that over 500,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) per day were being produced by the 110 PPE manufacturers in the country. The minister also said that India's recovery rate was around 82 per cent and the fatality rate was around 1.6 per cent.

The Prime Minister has pledged at the United Nations that his country's vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the coronavirus crisis, earning praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his annual United Nations General Assembly address on September 26 that the country's vast vaccine production industry would serve the world in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

"As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today," Modi said in a pre-recorded speech. "India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis." The Prime Minister's good gesture on sharing the vaccine with the rest of the world came amid questions about how India would provide such protection to its own people.

Just hours before his address was broadcast, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine maker, said that the country's Health Ministry would need close to $1 billion in the next year for a mass vaccination campaign. His question is not answered yet.

Will the Centre have Rs 80,000 crore to spend over the next one year? The Ministry of Health needs to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next challenge we need to tackle. Our politicians need to respect scientific evidence and not provide false optimism to people amid the raging coronavirus crisis. Even our media does not seem to be doing an honest service.

They keep talking about the record recoveries everyday forgetting the fact that, however high our testing rates are, we still are not doing enough. We are a 1.35 billion people country. Will the positive spin on the situation help us? Questions are being raised about the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s "political motives".

Let us keep this in mind while being optimistic: the epidemic is far from over, with a potentially huge burden of mortality and morbidity to come unless public health measures are used and adhered to. Above all we need a clear and honest communication with the people to handle the situation effectively. Hope the politicians understand this.

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