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Hope for 'very significant control' over COVID-19 by Diwali: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan also expressed hope about having a vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of 2020.

August 31, 2020 / 12:00 PM IST

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Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on August 30 expressed hope that we should have "very significant control" over COVID-19 by Diwali.

"...hopefully that in the next couple of months, maybe by Diwali time, we should have a very significant control over the coronavirus," Vardhan said.

Addressing the Nation First webinar series organised by Ananthkumar Foundation, he said experts like Dr Devi Prasad Shetty and Dr CN Manjnath will probably agree that after some time this will also become endemic like many other viruses which have come to the globe in the past.

"But, the virus has taught us a certain lesson, it has taught us there has to be a new normal and we need to be more diligent about, more cautious about our lifestyle...," 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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Vardhan also expressed hope about having a vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of this year.

"We are not lagging behind anyone else in the whole world in our efforts to contribute towards the vaccine against COVID... In India we have about 7-8 vaccine candidates, three of them in the clinical trial phases and rest in the pre-clinical trials and by the end of this year we hope to be able to get a vaccine against COVID," he said.

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The Minister said there was only one lab in February which has now increased to 1,583 nationwide, and out of this more than 1,000 are government labs.

The country is conducting about 1 million tests per day which is way ahead of the target, he said.

Noting that there is no more scarcity of PPE kits, ventilators and N95 masks in the country, Vardhan further said every day five lakh PPE kits are produced in the country, while 10 manufacturers are producing N95 masks, and 25 producers are manufacturing ventilators.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
PTI
first published: Aug 30, 2020 10:56 pm

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