16,000 medical staff trained in Maha for vaccine drive: Tope

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Mumbai, Dec 23 (PTI) The Maharashtra government has completed the preliminary task of training 16,000 medical staff for mass vaccination against COVID-19 and a vaccine, when it is made available, will be administered in two dosages, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday.

He said there is no need to panic over the new strain of the novel coronavirus detected in the UK and the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) is studying the variant which is said to be highly infectious.

Medicines being used currently for treating COVID-19 patients will be used against the new strain of coronavirus, he told reporters here.

Tope said the state government has taken a slew of measures like mandatory institutional quarantine for passengers returning from Britain and night curfew in cities to deal with the emerging situation.

Each person who enrolls for COVID-19 vaccination will have to take two dosages of the vaccine. Bharat Biotech and Pune-based Serum Institute of India have sought nod for mass scale vaccine distribution.

'The ball is in the Centres court. Once approval is given, states will be allocated to the companies to distribute their vaccines,' the minister said.

He said all requirements for the vaccine drive have been completed in Maharashtra, the state worst hit by COVID-19 where more than 19 lakh cases have been reported so far.

The Maharashtra government has completed the preliminary stage of training 16,000 medical staff for mass scale vaccination.

'They are ready to scale up the vaccination drive whenever the Centre permits. Cold chain required for transportation and storage of vaccine doses has been also put in place,' Tope said.

'Wherever any shortcomings are found, the Centre has assured to help the state,' said the minister.

'There is no need to panic about the new strain of the novel coronavirus detected in the UK and other European countries.

'Pune-based NIV is studying the new strain and it will soon submit a report to the ICMR to form a fresh set of instructions, he said.

It is true that the new strain is highly infectious.

It spreads faster than the previous one. A preliminary study says it could be 70 per cent more infectious,' Tope said.

Asked about the line of treatment in case a person is found infected with the new COVID-19 variant, he said the treatment will be same as in case of current patients.

'Medicines used currently for treating COVID-19 patients are going to be used against the new strain of coronavirus.

'We have been told that the recently developed vaccines have some impact on the new strain of coronavirus as well, said the health minister.

'We are putting the UK returned passengers into institutional quarantine. Similarly, to put a check on its spread in the next few days, night curfew has been imposed (in cities),' he said. PTI ND RSY RSY