PM Modi chairs review meet on Covid-19 vaccination drive
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a review meeting of Covid-19 vaccination drive in the country amid rising cases of Delta plus variant which has infected more than 50 people so far, reported news agency PTI. The meeting has been called by the Prime Minister to discuss the progress of the vaccination drive in the country.
The meeting was held via video-conferencing and comes over a month after the Centre extended the free vaccination drive to cover everyone above the age of 18 years.
The highly transmissible Delta Plus variant was first detected in three states - Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra earlier this week -- and in the following days, it has been traced in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The meeting by PM Modi comes a day after the Union health ministry urged eight states and union territories to rush and impose immediate containment measures including preventing crowds, conducting widespread testing.
The health ministry has also pressed on increasing vaccine coverage on a priority basis in districts where the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus has been detected.
Among these states are Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Haryana.
Leading health experts have sought a label of 'Variant of Concern' for the Delta Plus saying that even though there is no data as of now which shows that the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 is spreading faster than Delta but the former should also be treated as a "variant of concern"
Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, former head scientist of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, said the reason for terming it as a variant of concern emanates from Delta which is also clubbed under the same category.
"There is no data as of now that says Delta Plus is spreading faster than Delta, basically Delta plus will prevail across we still don't have evidence. But Delta has spread a lot and Delta is a variant of concern for sure, since it's a variant of concern, you have to also treat Delta Plus as a variant of concern, but now this mutation has how much efficiency and can we add attribute to this particular mutation, we don't know," said Dr Gangakhedkar told ANI.
The Union Health Ministry has warned that the Delta Plus variant has increased transmissibility, causes stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and has the potential of reducing monoclonal antibody response.
India has administered at least 31,50,45,926 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the start of the vaccination drive in January. A total of 61,19,169 vaccine doses were given in the last 24 hours.
Pegged as the world's largest vaccination drive, India kickstarted this initiative on January 16 this year in a phased manner which prioritised the healthcare workers first. In the next stage, India vaccinated frontline workers (FLWs) on February 2. The next phase of Covid-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for those over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.