Reiterating that COVID-19 is still in the local transmission stage in India, the Health Ministry on Monday said it took 12 days for cases of infection to rise from 100 to 1,000 and that the rate of increase has been slower than some of the developed countries.
Addressing the daily press briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said 92 new cases and four deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29.
"It took 12 days for cases to rise from 100 to 1,000 in our country, whereas seven other developed nations having lesser population than us have seen multiple increase," he said.
Agarwal attributed the slow pace of rise in cases in India to people's participation in strictly following the social distancing guidelines and the collective preemptive actions taken by the Centre in tandem with state governments.
Underlining the importance of social distancing, he said even one person's carelessness can lead to the spread of this pandemic.
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.
He, however, said instead of panic, there is a need for creating awareness about COVID-19.
"Technically, COVID-19 is still in the local transmission stage in the country as there has been no community transmission as of now," he said, adding, "If there will be a community transmission we will want to covey it to the community through you (media) to increase the level of alertness and management for COVID-19 at the field level."
Speaking at the same press conference, Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said 38,442 tests have been conducted till now, out of which 3,501 were done on Sunday.
He said 47 private laboratories have been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests and in the last three days, 1,334 tests have been done in private labs, he said."We are still utilising less than 30 per cent of our testing capacity,” he reiterated.