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We don't need a lockdown, have infrastructure to deal with COVID-19 now: PM Modi

A "vaccine utsav" should be observed from April 11 to April 14 to promote the usage of vaccine among the eligible section of the population, Modi told the chief ministers.

April 08, 2021 / 09:13 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File image: Twitter/@BJP4India)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File image: Twitter/@BJP4India)

As the second wave of COVID-19 in India intensifies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8 said a number of states have crossed the peak of the pandemic's first wave. The need is to combat the health crisis on "war footing", he said in a review meeting held virtually with the chief ministers of states and union territories.

The country is witnessing an unprecedented growth in new infections, Modi said, adding that the situation is a "big cause of worry" before the nation.

The laxity adopted by the public, along with a "casual approach" shown by the administration in some states is responsible for the high transmission rate of the virus, Modi suggested.

The country, however, does not require a blanket lockdown and is better poised to tackle the crisis as compared to the last year when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, he claimed.

"We didn't have testing labs and PPE kits earlier," Modi said. "Our earlier strategy was to go into complete lockdown to ramp up our health infrastructure. That strategy had helped up," he added.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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But now, the strategy should be based on enhanced COVID-19 management, Modi told the chief ministers. "Our focus should be on micro containment zones," the prime minister stressed.

"We have to discuss testing more than vaccine," Modi said, adding that the the solution amidst the sharp surge in infections is to resort to "proactive testing". If the asymptomatic patients are tracked, they can be home isolated to curb the pace of transmission, he noted.

The states must increase the number of testing even if it leads to a surge in per-day detection of new cases, Modi underlined. "The target should be 70 percent RT-PCR testing," he reiterated, adding that not even one resident should be left out during the testing in containment zones.

The imposition of night curfews is a globally accepted strategy, the prime minister pointed out. Instead of night curfews, they can be referred to "corona curfew" to keep the citizens alert about coronavirus, Modi said. The timing of such curfews should begin from 9 pm or 10 pm and continue till 5 am or 6 am, he added.

Some of the states are also required to improve their infrastructure, Modi claimed. The focus should be on minimising the rate of mortality. "We have to monitor factors that lead to patients death. We need to review availability of ambulances and oxygen cylinders," he said.

On vaccines, the prime minister, in an apparent counter to the opposition's demand of relaxing the age limit, said India's approach is not starkly different from other countries in the world. The shots have to be prioritised for the vulnerable section of the population, he noted.

"Today, the problem is that we have forgotten about COVID19 testing and have moved to vaccination. We have to remember that we had won the fight against COVID19 without a vaccine. We have to emphasise on testing," he said.

Modi, however, added that the states must not adopt laxity in encouraging vaccination among the eligible beneficiaries. States must target 100 percent vaccination for the 45-plus age group, he stated.

A "vaccine utsav" should be observed from April 11 to April 14 to promote the usage of vaccine among the eligible section of the population, Modi told the chief ministers. In this campaign, the states must also ensure "zero wastage" of the vaccines, he said.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 8, 2021 08:29 pm

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