A health worker in PPE coveralls stands in a doorway before the start of collection of swab samples for coronavirus testing, at a testing centre, in Janakpuri, in New Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A health worker in PPE coveralls stands in a doorway before the start of collection of swab samples for coronavirus testing, at a testing centre, in Janakpuri, in New Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

India’s cases, deaths per mn lowest globally, says Centre

The group of ministers was also briefed on the recent health ministry directives on the bi-directional tuberculosis (TB) and Covid-19 screening and diabetes management in Covid-19 facilities.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Rhythma Kaul
UPDATED ON AUG 30, 2020 07:00 AM IST

India has one of the lowest cases per million (2,424) and deaths per million (44) compared to the global average of 3,161 cases and 107.2 deaths, respectively, said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday while chairing the 20th meeting of the group of ministers on Covid-19.

At the meeting conducted to review the current status of the coronavirus outbreak in India, the health minister said: “…despite being resource constrained and densely populated, timely lockdown and rapid augmentation of infrastructure by India have enabled to keep the case per million and deaths per million considerably lower compared to other countries.”

The meeting was informed that as of Saturday, eight states -- Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana -- contribute to around 73% of the active caseload of the country.

Seven states -- Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- account for 81% of total Covid-19 deaths, the health ministry data revealed.

The group of ministers was also briefed on the recent health ministry directives on the bi-directional tuberculosis (TB) and Covid-19 screening and diabetes management in Covid-19 facilities, etc., and also on efforts being made to ramp up testing and reduce Covid-19 related deaths to below 1% of the total positive cases.

Among the key challenges that the government was currently facing in stopping disease transmission was to ensure people strictly follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

According to Dr Sujeet K Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) who was present at the meeting presented a detailed report on surveillance efforts undertaken in India during the pandemic. “…there needs to be continued attention on promotion of wearing masks, physical distancing and respiratory etiquettes. Behaviour changes communication, therefore, assumes a priority role in covid-19 management,” he said.

On the Covid-19 vaccine front, Dr Vinod K Paul, chairperson of the empowered group-1 on medical emergency management plan, said that India was progressing satisfactorily. He further apprised the GoM of the process of Covid vaccine development in India and around the world.

As of now, 29 vaccine candidates, including two Indian ones, are in clinical trials; out of which six are in Phase III.

“In India, Bharat Biotech’s vaccine candidate based on inactivated virus procured by ICMR is in Phase II trial along with Zydus Cadila’s candidate which is based on viral DNA. The Oxford vaccine candidate developed by Serum Institute of India is already in Phase III trial in Maharashtra and some other States,” Paul informed the group.

The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 has also met thrice during this month.

The group is tasked with facilitation of vaccine development including issues of trial and stockpiling, sorting out issues of financing, risk-management, selection of potential beneficiaries and their order of reference, envisioning logistics, scale up of procurement and distribution, digital system, defining principles for selecting beneficiary categories, and defining scientific basis for selecting vaccine.

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