Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Wednesday said India will have procured 267 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of this year, and will be in a position to inoculate at least all of its adult population, according to an official statement. The minister said that 51 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses will be made available by July and 216 crore more between August and December. He urged states to ensure that the healthcare and frontline workers are fully vaccinated, as they form the vulnerable categories.
Interacting with the health ministers and principal secretaries/ additional chief secretaries of West Bengal and eight northeast states, Vardhan said, "Between August to December 2021, India will have procured 216 crore vaccine doses while, by July this year, 51 crore doses will be procured."
He said that by the end of the year, the country will be in a position to vaccinate at least all of its adult population, according to the health ministry statement. West Bengal and the eight states of the North-eastern region are depicting a higher growth rate in the number of daily cases, high mortality and increasing positivity rate, the statement said.
Pointing out the new emerging trend in the country, Vardhan highlighted that now smaller states are showing an upward trend in terms of number of infections and there is a need to be cautious about this. Speaking of the government's efforts towards fighting coronavirus, Vardhan said that from having just one COVID testing laboratory at the start of the pandemic, there are over 2000 across the country now.
"We have increased our capacity to test 25 lakh people daily. Yesterday, India achieved a historical first by testing the highest number of over 20 lakh people in a single day. This is a global record too," he was quoted as saying in the statement. He stressed on the continued need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour along with renewed and stringent focus on containment measures.
Underscoring the critical importance of vaccination drive, the minister highlighted that India has achieved another landmark by crossing 18 crore doses recently. He also pointed out that more than one crore doses are still in stock with the state governments.
Highlighting the critical challenges faced by the NE states and West Bengal, Vardhan said in Mizoram, all districts are showing a rise in new cases. Nagaland has shown a sharp increase in daily cases (15-20 per day to 300 per day) and weekly positivity rate (1% to 34%); there is a need to strengthen testing facilities in peri-urban and rural areas, the statement said.
In Assam, Kamrup (Metropolitan) is contributing almost 45% of the daily new cases; while in Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills and Righboi are reporting sharp increases in daily cases. Manipur's recovery rate of 78% and case fatality rate (CFR) of more than 1% was highlighted as a matter of concern, it underlined.
Sikkim was advised to strengthen community surveillance and ensure strict monitoring of home quarantine to address its high CFR, the statement said. In Arunachal Pradesh, ICU occupancy is almost 22.5% while capital complex and Changlang districts are reporting maximum cases. All districts of West Bengal are showing a steep increase in positivity rate. Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Nadia were flagged as districts of concern.
In Tripura, there has been a steep rise in positivity from 1.3% in April to around 8.7% now. West Tripura, Unakoti, South Tripura were flagged as districts of concern, according to the statement. He asked the states to focus on increasing testing in a timely manner along with upgrading the health infrastructure.
Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey reiterated that testing should be increased, particularly RT-PCR one. The Centre is also assisting states on medicines for Black Fungus and oxygen, he said. "We have to maintain COVID-19 protocol and we will win this war against COVID."
Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director, NCDC, presented an overview of the COVID trajectory in the states and suggested ramping up of RAT testing and vaccination in rural areas.
Vikash Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health) presented on the optimal and judicious use of vaccine doses. All the states, barring Tripura, has had a lower coverage of HCW/FLW workers than the National average (90% and 82% respectively), the statement said.
In the 45 plus category, Meghalaya (28%), Manipur (26%), West Bengal (25%), Assam (23%), Nagaland (22%) had a lower coverage than the national average (32%), the statement stated. States were advised to ensure complete utilisation of available vaccination slots for 45+ age-group/HCW.
State administrators were advised to reduce vaccine wastage. Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland had clocked substantial wastage and were advised to retrain their staff to achieve minimum wastage, the statement said. Vardhan assured the states of all support from the Centre in augmenting their vaccine drive.
Biplab Kumar Deb, the Chief Minister and Health Minister of Tripura; Keshab Mahanta, the Health Minister of Assam; AK Hek, the Health Minister, Meghalaya,; Lalpoklakpam Jayantakumar Singh, the Health Minister of Manipur; Dr R Lalthangliana, the Health Minister of Mizoram; AloLibang, the Health Minister of Arunachal Pradesh; PangnyuPhom, the Health Minister (Nagaland) and Dr Mani Kumar Sharma, the Health Minister (Sikkim) were present virtually in this meeting.