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“No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way; that you have to visit pandals and temples and mosques to pray,” India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan stated…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Union Heath Minister Harsh Vardhan briefs the media after a review and coordination meeting on coronavirus, in New Delhi (Photo: IANS/PIB)

As festivities are around the corner, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has requested people to not adhere to complacency amid the raging wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Minister warned people to stay away from large congregations and diligently follow the Covid guidelines issued for precautions against the deadly viral disease.

He also requested people to celebrate upcoming festivals at home, with their loved ones, instead of going out to fairs and pandals.

“Extraordinary circumstances must draw extraordinary responses.

“No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way; that you have to visit pandals and temples and mosques to pray,” Vardhan stated while hosting his weekly webinar, Sunday Samvaad, where he interacts with his social media audience.

Reminding people that fighting against Covid is the foremost Dharma, Vardhan explained that his Dharma as the Health Minister of the country is to mitigate the virus and prevent deaths at any cost.

“The Bhagwad Gita condones war for the warrior class. So, there is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion. If we do this, we may be heading for big trouble. Lord Krishna says concentrate on your goal..my goal and your goal. Our goal is to finish this virus and save humanity. This is our religion,” he said.

Vardhan also exhorted people to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to take a pledge for the massive country-wide awareness campaign during the two months with an objective to contain the further spread of the pandemic.

The Minister shared the possibility of increased transmission of the Sars-CoV-2 during winters as infectivity of respiratory virus is known to increase during the colder weather.

“These viruses are known to thrive better in the cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too,” he noted.

“Adhering to the Covid appropriate behaviours of wearing masks/face covers, especially when in public places, regularly washing of hands and maintaining respiratory etiquette will help us to contain the spread of the diseases,” he reiterated.

Prioritisation of vaccine

Vardhan said that the government would look at two key considerations for prioritisation of the Covid-19 vaccine — the occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and secondly, the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality.

Besides, the supply of vaccines is anticipated to be available in limited quantities in the beginning, he added.

“In a huge country like India, it is critical to prioritise vaccine delivery based on various factors such as per risk of exposure, co-morbidity among various population groups, the mortality rate among Covid cases, and several others,” he said, while adding that India is looking at the availability of several different types of vaccines.

On the issue of emergency authorisation of Covid vaccines in India, the Minister said that the issue is being deliberated at present.

“Adequate safety and efficacy data is required for emergency use authorisation of vaccine for ensuring patient safety. Further course of action will depend on the data generated,” he added.

Harsh Vardhan also informed that Covid-19 vaccines currently in trial in India are two and three dose vaccines.

“Vaccine by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech require two doses while the Cadila Healthcare vaccine requires three doses. For other vaccines in preclinical stages, the dosing is being tested,” he stated.

Three potential vaccines are being tested in India, including Covishield which was developed jointly by the Jenner institute of University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca.

Covishield is in Phase-2 and Phase-3 human trials and, if successful, will be mass produced by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of vaccines. Its trials in India are running at 17 locations across the country.

Besides, Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, are conducting Phase-1 and Phase-2 clinical trials of its vaccine candidate COVAXIN.

The third vaccine candidate under human trial is ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila. This candidate is now under Phase-1 and Phase-2 of clinical trials.

Meanwhile, with a single day spike of 74,383 new cases, including 918 deaths, India on Sunday crossed the 70-lakh-mark with a total of 70,53,806 so far.

Out of these, 8,67,496 are active cases; 60,77,976 cured/discharged/migrated cases and 1,08,334 succumbed to the pandemic, said the latest data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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