The Centre on Tuesday, 6 April said that the vaccination drive is on track in the country and the aim is to administer the vaccine to those who need it, not those who want it.
“Many people ask why we shouldn't open vaccination for all. There are two aims of such vaccination drives — to prevent deaths and protect the healthcare system. The aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told the media during the Health Ministry’s weekly briefing.
Bhushan reminded people to follow all the COVID-19 appropriate norms like wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing and asked all those eligible to get vaccinated.
Bhushan also said that Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh still remain states of maximum concern. "Given their population, the number of deaths being reported by Punjab and Chhattisgarh is a cause of extreme concern," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The Union health secretary also said that the Centre has constituted 50 high-level multi-disciplinary public health teams and deployed them to districts reporting a surge in cases and mortality in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab.
Delhi and Maharashtra Chief Ministers had written to the Centre calling for opening up vaccination to more age groups.
"When we talk about opening vaccination to all, our focus reduces on controlling the pandemic. Did you hear any country that is vaccinating less than 45,” questioned Bhushan and VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog. However, as of Tuesday evening, several states in the United States of America have opened up the vaccine to all adults. The USA started vaccinations roughly a month before India. Other countries which have opened up universal vaccination include Israel, Russia, South Korea and Bulgaria, according to the data on the website Our World in Data.
"We are lucky about our vaccine production pace, but we can't trivialise it. So far no research has shown whether herd immunity develops at so and so pace...The answer is not yet sorted out. But we do know that all vaccines being given today reduce mortality and severe disease. That is the priority," Paul said.
Paul further said that the pandemic situation in the country worsened with a sharp rise in cases and a large part of the population is still susceptible to the virus.
“The tools to fight the pandemic remain the same. COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment measures, testing has to be implemented more efficiently, medical infrastructure has to be ramped up, and vaccination drive intensified,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
People’s participation is vital to control the second wave. The next four weeks are going to very critical. The entire country has to come together and make efforts to fight the pandemic.VK Paul
He also said that the number of coronavirus cases is increasing and along with that mortality is also on the rise. "Still, in terms of the population size and in terms of deaths per million we are doing well and the pandemic is in control."
Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also held a meeting with Health Ministers of 11 states to review the COVID-19 situation on Tuesday via video conferencing.
“This has come to our notice that the sudden increase in cases are largely or may be event-driven including grand weddings, local body election, farmer's protest, etc,” he said.
“Intensity of COVID-19 pandemic increased in India. It is spreading faster than last time,” the Health Ministry also said.
So far, 8.31 crore doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in the country since the drive began on 16 January. More than 43 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in a span of 24 hours on 5 April, making it the highest single-day coverage till now.
India recorded 96,982 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 1,26,86,049 on Tuesday. This comes a day after daily cases crossed the one-lakh mark.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)