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Coronavirus pandemic | PM Narendra Modi allocates Rs 15,000 crore for health infra

"Social distancing, keeping locked in your home is the only solution to contain COVID-19," Modi appealed to the citizens in his televised speech.

March 24, 2020 / 10:13 PM IST

Narendra Modi, Prime minister of India | Though almost all of India’s Prime Ministers have come from the nearly 80% of the population that is Hindu, only Modi has governed as if no one else matters,” writes Karl Vick, Time editor. (Image: Reuters)


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 said Rs 15,000 crore will be provided for setting up testing facilities, isolation beds, procure personal protection equipment and ventilators to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Modi also declared a 21-day complete lockdown from tonight.

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"Social distancing, keeping locked in your home is the only solution to contain COVID-19," Modi appealed to the citizens in his televised speech.

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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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Explaining the intensity of the outbreak, Modi said it took 61 days to get to 1 lakh cases and it took 11 days to reach 2 lakh reported cases.

Modi said it is difficult to estimate the damage that can be caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Rs 15,000 crore fund is also meant for training of medical and paramedical staff, Modi said, adding that healthcare delivery should be the first priority of every state.

However, India needs to rapidly scale-up its health infra to deal with the pandemic like COVID-19 and the Rs 15,000 crore may not be enough to address the structural problems in the healthcare sysytem.

There is a massive shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers who are at high risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection.

According to estimates, India would need 6.5 lakh body coveralls, 1 crore masks and 60 lakh N-95 masks.

It is estimated that India has only 30,000 ventilators for a population of 130 crore people. India has 0.7 hospital beds per 1000 people, as per World Bank estimates.

But despite these challenges, if government coordinates and plans well, using scale to its advantage and unleash private enterprise - it will be quickly able to scale up.
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Mar 24, 2020 08:47 pm

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