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Despite its own needs, India ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries: Harsh Vardhan

He was speaking during a virtual interaction with health ministers of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries. Tedros, Director-General, World Health Organisation was also present in the meeting.

May 28, 2021 / 08:13 AM IST
Harsh Vardhan said that between August and December 2021, India will have procured 216 crore vaccine doses

Harsh Vardhan said that between August and December 2021, India will have procured 216 crore vaccine doses

India ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries despite its own needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also been active in global efforts to develop “diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines” to tackle the infection, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.

He was speaking during a virtual interaction with health ministers of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries. Tedros, Director-General, World Health Organisation was also present in the meeting.

Reiterating that India shall always strive for the "health of all", Vardhan said, “Despite its own needs, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries, including 59 NAM nations. India has also been active in global efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19 because we know and understand that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

He said India has adopted transformative strategies and fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at all the core tenets of Universal Health Coverage like strengthening health systems, including primary healthcare, improving access to free drugs and diagnostics, and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending.

“India is moving towards Universal Healthcare for All which means every citizen of India must get world quality treatment facilities. Full immunisation coverage is increasing at a rapid pace with a greater emphasis on village-based micro-plans as we aim to enhance coverage to 90 per cent in a year,” an official statement quoted the health minister as saying.

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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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Speaking about India's ambitious National Health Policy, he noted, “Our flagship health initiative called Ayushman Bharat aims at providing free health assurance to over 500 million underprivileged people, making it the world's largest health assurance scheme.

“And we dream of making this scheme much bigger, ensuring it for every Indian! If a developing nation like India can dream of this level of "health for all" policy, I think the rest of the world has to think even beyond this,” he said.

He, however, expressed concern over the current pandemic that has demonstrated the vulnerability of humankind to exigencies and underlined the need to act with greater speed and predictability.

“We need an aggressive roadmap to curtail deaths from diseases that can be eliminated. We need a fresh roadmap to address shortages of medicines and vaccines. Our motto should always be to protect the health of those without wealth…,” the minister added.



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PTI
first published: May 28, 2021 08:14 am
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