Speed Post News Network

New Delhi : Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired the 22nd meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 by a video-conference here on December 19, 2020.

He was joined by Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, and Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare, and Nityanand Rai, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs. Dr. Vinod K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Amarjeet Sinha, adviser to the Prime Minister, and Bhaskar Khulbe, adviser to the  Prime Minister were present virtually.

Dr Vardhan began the meet by expressing deep gratitude to all the COVID warriors who have been steadfast in their duty without any fatigue throughout the pandemic which is in its twelfth month. He also informed his colleagues of the gains made by the country’s public health system against COVID and the encouraging results so far.

“ India’s COVID 19 Pandemic Growth has dropped to 2% and Case Fatality Rate is amongst lowest in the world at 1.45%,” he stated. “India’s Recovery Rate has peaked to 95.46% while the strategy of testing 1 million samples has decreased the Cumulative Positivity Rate to 6.25%,” he added.

Observing the fact that despite festivals in the month of October November, no new surge of cases were observed in this period due to comprehensive testing, tracking and treatment policy implemented on the ground, the Union Health Minister and Chairperson of the GOM reiterated his concern and appeal to diligently maintain COVID Appropriate Behaviour even at a time when the country is at the cusp of authorising the first set of vaccine. He also expressed the need for an expeditious vaccination drive to cover all the target populations estimated to be around 30 crore.

Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director (NCDC), presented a detailed report on how the data driven graded government policies have helped India achieve a significant control over the pandemic. He showed figures related to number of cases, number of deaths, their growth rate, and how they compared favourably to the rest of the world which is witnessing a meteoric rise in these parameters.

Through a detailed presentation, Dr Vinod K Paul, Member (H) NITI Aayog, apprised the GoM of three critical aspects of vaccination; the process of pre-clinical and clinical trial of all vaccine, the details of the six vaccine candidates undergoing trial in India (in terms of composition, manufacturers and technical partners, numbers of doses, conditions for storage and efficacy) and the composition of target populations in India, in terms of age, occupation, and co-morbidities and how they compare with other countries and WHO’s recommendations. He also briefed the GoM about requests for vaccine received by the Ministry of External Affairs from 12 other countries, according to a PIB release.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted the importance of Health Seeking Behaviour among the population as a key driver in checking fatality. Explaining the paradox of some States /UTs reporting very high cases but minimal fatalities while others reporting low cases but comparatively high fatalities, he said that this phenomenon results from people not coming forward for testing even if they are symptomatic in the second category of states. People in States/UTs with a vibrant public healthcare system are tracked and encouraged to be tested by grassroots health workers which inhibits the progress of COVID in the patient to an advanced stage which allows these States to keep their fatality rate at minimum, he added.