As India grappled with a raging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the government on Monday sought to allay people's fears, saying unnecessary panic is causing more harm than good. Stressing on the need for vaccination and observing COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, the government advised that it is time people start wearing masks inside their homes as well.
It also pitched for expediting the pace of the vaccination drive and asserted that women can take COVID-19 vaccine during menstruation as well.
Addressing a joint press conference with other senior functionaries, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Lav Agarwal said many people have been found to be occupying hospital beds out of panic.
Hospital admission should only be on the advice of doctors, he stressed.
Amid a shortage of medical oxygen, the government said India has enough medical oxygen available, but the challenge is to transport it to hospitals.
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.
The government said it is taking various measures to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to hospitals.
The government asked hospitals for judicious use of oxygen and to plug leakage, if any.
It also said that rational use of medical oxygen and appropriate prescription of drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab are critical in the fight against the pandemic.
The government said effectiveness of Remdesivir on critical patients is "not well-established" yet as it suggested use of other prescribed drugs.
Agarwal said that however much infrastructure is created, it will come under stress looking at the population of the country and added that it is important to curb the infection.
The government stressed on continuing vaccination of people, even at a faster pase, and maintaining COVID-19 appropriate behaviours.
Research has shown that if no physical distancing measures are followed, one person can infect 406 people in 30 days, it said, adding that if physical exposure is reduced by 50 per cent then one person can infect around 15 people during the period. And, if physical exposure is reduced by 75 per cent, then one person can infect around 2.5 people in 30 days.
It's time people start wearing masks inside their homes as well, the government said.
On the vaccination drive, Agarwal said of the 14.19 crore vaccine doses administered in India so far, 9.79 crore people aged 45 and above have got the first dose and 1.03 crore in the age bracket have received the second dose.
India's daily COVID-19 infection tally and death toll have touch new peaks in the past few days.
The country recorded 3,52,991 cases, the highest so far, taking the tally of cases to 1,73,13,163 while active cases have crossed the 28-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.The death toll increased to 1,95,123 with a record 2,812 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.