Coronavirus | India far from herd immunity, says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Hospitals warned against use of Remdesivir, plasma therapy, Dr. Vardhan says.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday cautioned that the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) COVID-19 first sero-survey should not create a sense of complacency in people with regard to the virus.

Speaking in his social media interaction Sunday Samvaad-3, Mr. Vardhan said indications from the up-coming second sero survey “are that India is far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which necessitates that all of us should continue following COVID appropriate behaviour.”

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The first sero-survey from May 2020 revealed a nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection of only 0.73%.

In a reversal, the Minister said the Health Ministry has advised against the wide usage of investigational therapies such as Remdesivir and plasma therapies. “Private hospitals have also been advised against routine use of these investigational therapies and doctors in the States/UTs have also been made aware of this,” he said.

Stating that the pandemic can only be fought when the government and society work in tandem, the Minister said a panel of experts were studying the emerging evidence that COVID not only impacts a patient’s lungs but other organ systems also.

Mr Vardhan added that States/UTs have now been directed to lower the prices of COVID tests and said the Ministry has asked them to engage private laboratories and arrive at a mutually agreeable lower rates.

Speaking on the disparity of setting up AIIMS in different regions and only one for the entire North-East, Dr. Vardhan said the central Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) scheme was aimed at correcting the regional imbalances in healthcare.

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“Other than setting up new AIIMS, the scheme also aims to upgrade the existing medical infrastructure in the entire country in a phased manner. Under different phases of the Scheme, the Centre will establish new medical colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals in Dhubri, Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Diphu, Kokrajhar Districts in Assam, Churachandrapur in Manipur West Garo Hills District in Meghalaya, Falkawan District in Mizoram, & Kohima and Mon in Nagaland,” he said.

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