With Serum Institute on the cusp of applying for emergency-use license of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday made it clear that the government had never spoken about vaccinating the entire country. Addressing a press conference, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said the “adverse event” in a Serum Institute trial of the Covishield vaccine would not affect vaccine timelines in anyway.
“I just want to make this clear that the govt has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country,” Bhushan said. “Vaccination would depend on the efficacy of the vaccine and our purpose is to break the chain of transmission. If we are able to vaccinate critical mass of people and break virus transmission, then we may not have to vaccinate the entire population,” said ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava.
Bhushan also said the initial findings into the “adverse event” allegedly suffered by a vaccine trial participant in Chennai did not necessitate halting of the trials. It is the role of the drug regulator to ascertain or refute if there is any causal link between the event and the intervention, he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual all-party meeting on December 4 to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country. Floor leads of parties in both Houses of Parliament have been invited to attend. This will be the second such meeting called by the government; the first was held in April, amid the nationwide lockdown.
India detected 31,118 cases of the novel coronavirus in the 24 hours ending 9 am Tuesday, taking its overall tally to 94.62 lakh. This includes 4,35,603 active cases, 88,89,585 people who have recovered and 1,37,621 deaths. The national capital saw the highest number of deaths due to the novel coronavirus in November; it reported 2,612 fatalities, higher than the toll of 2,219 in June. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday capped the price of RT-PCR tests at all private laboratories at Rs 800, down from the existing rate of Rs 2,400.