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850 oxygen plants being set up in various districts from PM Cares fund: DRDO chief

"We established temporary hospitals specific to COVID-19 in many cities (during the second wave). These are modular hospitals, we call it flying hospitals, and these have been made in a way that the virus does not go out of hospitals," DRDO chief C Satheesh Reddy said.

June 14, 2021 / 08:06 PM IST
Representative image (Image: AP)

Representative image (Image: AP)

As many as 850 oxygen plants are being set up in various districts from the PM Cares Fund, DRDO chief C Satheesh Reddy said Monday, as India emerges from the second wave of coronavirus which caused a major medical oxygen crisis across the country.

Reddy highlighted during the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Discourse Series' by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) that the DRDO was prepared to provide all kinds of support including more "flying hospitals" when the need arises in the fight against coronavirus, a DST statement said.

"We established temporary hospitals specific to COVID-19 in many cities (during the second wave). These are modular hospitals, we call it flying hospitals, and these have been made in a way that the virus does not go out of hospitals," he said.

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"If there is any third wave, all the hospitals will be taking the load, and the government is discussing these aspects with various stakeholders," Reddy said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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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.

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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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During the peak of the second wave of coronavirus in April and May, India reported a severe medical oxygen supply crisis with hospitals in several parts of the country running short of the gas due to a heightened demand.

"A total of 850 oxygen plants are being set up in various districts of the country from PM Cares Fund for catering to the needs of the country to fight the pandemic COVID-19," said Reddy, according to the DST statement.

He also underlined how the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) is primarily carrying out research in advanced technology in defence, while also concentrating on developing low cost but high-quality technology for the benefit of people.

DST Secretary Ashutosh Sharma talked about various steps taken by the Centre and the DST to fight the coronavirus pandemic and how to keep vaccines safe and to ensure they reach every nook and corner of the country.

He also spoke about ways in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) could play a greater role in fighting the pandemic.

"Technologies have been developed for storing and transporting vaccines to every nook and corner of the country. New ways of storing vaccines have been developed as per the Indian conditions.

"Convergence of technologies is the future, and AI can play a great role in diagnostics, telemedicine and will have tremendous importance in remote monitoring, diagnostics and decision-making in fighting pandemic," Sharma said.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
PTI
first published: Jun 14, 2021 08:05 pm

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