Finance Minister said that the government will be making additional investments to prepare India for future pandemics.
Detailing the measures for easing economic hardships triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday announced steps taken under MGNREGA, health and education, business during COVID-19, de-criminalisation of Companies Act, ease of doing business, public sector enterprise-related matters and resources related to state governments.
Speaking about initiatives taken under health reforms, Finance Minister announced that Centre will increase public health expenditure to deal with the pandemic.
She also said that the government will be making additional investments to prepare India for future pandemics.
"The government will build 'Infectious Diseases Hospital Blocks' in all districts," Sitharaman said, adding that investments will be made to ramp up health and wellness centres in rural and urban areas.
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.
Moreover, integrated public health labs will be set up in all districts and block levels.
Finance Minister on May 15 outlined the fifth tranche of the contours of India’s Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
So far, the steps announced by the government have focussed on MSMEs, PSU banks, agriculture, the welfare of the poor and structural reforms in eight sectors, including coal, minerals, airports.
On May 15, Sitharaman announced Rs 1 lakh crore for a farm infrastructure fund and a Rs 10,000 crore scheme for micro food enterprises. Moreover, she proposed amendments to the Essential Commodities Act to enable better pricing for farmers.
The nationwide lockdown enforced on March 25 has brought most economic activities in the country to a standstill.Follow Moneycontrol's full coverage on Coronavirus here