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We are in the endgame of COVID-19 pandemic in India: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

The Union Health Minister said people should trust the science behind vaccines and ensure that their near and dear ones get vaccinated on time.

March 08, 2021 / 07:46 AM IST
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo).

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo).

"We are in the end game of the COVID-19 pandemic in India" and to succeed at this stage, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said, politics should be kept out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive. He said people should trust the science behind vaccines and ensure that their near and dear ones get vaccinated on time.

Speaking at the Delhi Medical Association's (DMA's) 62nd Annual Delhi State Medical Conference (MEDICON 2021) in collaboration with Dharamshila Narayana Hospital on Sunday, Vardhan said over 2 crore COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered so far and the vaccination rate has been increased to 15 lakhs per day.

"Unlike most other countries, we have a steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines that are safe with proven immunogenicity and efficacy. Based on the initial results, these Made in India vaccines have shown some of the lowest adverse events following immunization (AEFI) anywhere in the world," he said.

Vardhan asserted that today children in the entire world need to be vaccinated against poliomyelitis only because Pakistan and Afghanistan failed to eradicate this disease from their respective countries, the statement said.

Also Read: COVID-19 nearing endemic phase in Delhi, says Health Minister Satyendar Jain


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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"Similarly, India cannot be safe from coronavirus and COVID19 if the rest of the world continues to be unsafe, which is why it is essential to curb COVID-19 vaccine nationalism. "

"If poor and underdeveloped countries continue to harbour the novel coronavirus, we shall not be able to ensure safety for all. A fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine is the biggest need of the hour," he said.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India, has emerged as the world's pharmacy, and it supplied 5.51 crore COVID-19 vaccines to 62 different countries, he said.

"At a time of global crisis, under the leadership of Modi Ji, India has emerged as an example to the world in international cooperation," he was quoted as saying in the statement.

"It was Modi ji's insistence that COVID-19 vaccines should be provided with no strings attached, and the countries without the vaccine supply should not be taken advantage of at the time of a global humanitarian crisis," he said.

Looking at the possibility of eradication of COVID-19 in India, Vardhan said, "We are in the end game of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, and to succeed at this stage, we need to follow 3 steps: Keep politics out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, trust the science behind COVID-19 vaccines, and ensure our near and dear ones get vaccinated on time.

The government has already involved private players in COVID-19 vaccination, and if hospitals want, they can conduct vaccination 24×7, the minister said.

"My request to everyone is that just like people embraced 'Jan Andolan for COVID-19 appropriate behaviour', they should embrace Jan Andolan for COVID-19 vaccination and get all COVID-19 vaccine shots whenever they are eligible," he said.

Delhi Medical Association (DMA) honoured Vardhan for his contribution to the medical fraternity and outstanding service and exemplary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health Ministry said in a statement.

Healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers, not just in this room, but across India, rose to the occasion and sacrificed not only their time with family, but also their own mental, physical and emotional health for this beloved nation, Vardhan said.

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