The Union Council of Ministers on April 30 noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a ‘once in a century crisis’ that has thrown a big challenge for the world.
Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the council met to discuss the situation arising out of the second wave of the pandemic that has led to more than three lakh daily cases being registered for the past nine days.
India reported 3.86 lakh new COVID-19 infections as per the latest Health Ministry data as a shortage of oxygen and drugs continues to overwhelm the health system. With 3,502 deaths registered on April 29, the country has now seen over 3,000 deaths from the killer virus for the past three days.
The federal approach towards fighting COVID-19, based on the collective efforts of the Centre, state governments and citizens, was highlighted in the meet.
"PM Narendra Modi said that all arms of the government are working unitedly and rapidly to deal with the situation. He also urged the ministers to stay in touch with people of their respective regions, help them and keep getting their feedback," the government said in a press release after the meeting.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Modi also stressed upon the need to ensure that issues at the local level are promptly identified and addressed.
The ministers also briefed efforts by the Centre in coordination with the states towards building up infrastructure in the form of ramping up hospital beds, resolving issues in production, storage and transport of Oxygen and tackling matters relating to availability of essential medicines.
The measures being taken to further ramp up their supply and availability were also pointed out. The support measures to the vulnerable population in the form of provision of foodgrains and financial support to Jan Dhan account holders were also pointed out.
It was also noted that India could successfully produce two vaccines and there are many candidates at the various stages of approval and induction. According to figures released by the government earlier today, the Centre has provided nearly 16.33 crore vaccine doses (16,33,85,030) to states free of cost. Of this, the total consumption including wastages is 15.3 lakh.
The Council of Ministers also stressed the importance of COVID appropriate behaviour– wearing a mask, keeping physical distance of six feet and washing hands frequently.