In March, the Centre had declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities to boost supply and prevent hoarding of these items in its fight to check the spread of novel coronavirus.
Face masks and hand sanitisers are no more essential products as their supply is sufficient in the country and, therefore, are now kept out of the purview of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan said on July 7.
On March 13, the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry had declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities for 100 days to boost supply and prevent hoarding of these items in its fight to check the spread of COVID-19.
"These two products were declared as essential items till June 30. We are not extending further as there is enough supply in the country," Nandan told PTI.
A decision in this regard was taken after consultation with the state governments, she said.
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.
"We have checked with all states and got information from them that there is sufficient supply of these two items. There is no supply concern," she added.
Masks (2-ply and 3-ply surgical masks, N95 masks) and hand sanitisers were brought under the Essential Commodities Act, empowering states to regulate production, distribution and prices of these items and also crackdown on hoarding and blackmarketing.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic