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Govt should assess requirement of booster doses: Parliament standing committee report

Recommending universal vaccine coverage, the committee said, “If need be, door to door COVID-19 vaccination on a mission mode like polio vaccination programme, may be carried out, with the involvement of local level health workers, etc., to cover the entire population at the earliest.”

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
December 10, 2021 7:13:44 pm
The committee, headed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma, tabled its report in Parliament on Friday.

Government should assess the requirement of booster doses and make sure all the adult population is vaccinated through a door to door campaign in view of the threat from Omicron variant of the coronavirus, a report by a standing committee of Parliament has recommended.

“The Committee takes note of the threat posed by a new variant of COVID-19 (Omicron) and also recommends that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) …should assess the requirement of booster doses in India to address the different variants of the virus. The Committee would like to know whether any research has been conducted by ICMR and other concerned institutions regarding the efficacy of the vaccines that are being given or administered in the country against various variants,” the report of the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has noted.

The committee, headed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma, tabled its report in Parliament on Friday.

Recommending universal vaccine coverage, the committee said, “If need be, door to door COVID19 vaccination on a mission mode like polio vaccination programme, may be carried out, with the involvement of local level health workers, etc., to cover the entire population at the earliest.”

The Committee said government needed to ramp up the infrastructure for COVID-19 patients, in view of the observations of experts that a possible third wave may target the non-vaccinated population especially the children, to avoid any disastrous consequences. It asked MHA to advise states that the COVID-19 infrastructure facilities including testing facility, ICU beds and medical oxygen created for patients may not be scaled down completely.

“The Committee is disappointed to note that no reply has been furnished regarding establishment of a network for collecting samples of different patients from different places at different points of time for future study. …such a databank would help the medical experts and epidemiologists to understand the nature of the present Pandemic and develop appropriate strategies for tackling such outbreaks of unprecedented scale in future,” the report said.

It also asked the government to prepare a comprehensive database of migrant workers in order to identify and provide rations and other essentials during future waves.

It advised the government to revisit the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Act, 1979 to incorporate lessons learnt from recent experiences of the pandemic.

“The Committee opines that the Pandemic/ epidemic fundamentally differs from disaster. Disasters happen periodically every year …whereas Pandemic/ epidemic occurs in decades and even once a century. Although the provision of NDMA helped in timely interventions and response during the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is not meant for handling the Pandemic/epidemic, if it happens in future,” it said noting that the government had set up a committee to review the act.

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