Govt Will Continue to Cover Vaccines for 45+ Age Group, Supply Being Augmented, Says Centre

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The Centre on Friday said it will continue to cover the vaccination cost of 45+ age group while boosting the production of doses against coronavirus, adding coordination is underway with manufacturers.

It said the inoculation of the 18-44 years age group will begin on a slow pace on Saturday, but will stablise soon.

“Those states who can procure vaccines from manufacturers can start vaccinating tomorrow,” a government official said. Several states, including Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra said they do not have sufficient doses of vaccine to initiate inoculation of those in the 18-44 age group. The shortage came with less than 24 hours to go for the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive for all adults in the country.

Regarding shortage of oxygen being reported from across the country, the government said there is no shortage, only logistical issues that are being sorted out. The health ministry said oxygen tankers are being increased and states being asked to create green corridors.

The Health Ministry further warned against “misplaced bravery” and stressed on following COVID-appropriate behaviour and treatment guidelines while saying “we may be tired but the virus isn’t”. Seeking everyone’s support to manage the situation, Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said that “misplaced fear” was also being observed among people and urged them not to stock oxygen cylinders at home.

“Virus has not gone into fatigue, even if we have. Fear and panic only aggravates and complicates the ongoing agony,” he said. “We are observing misplaced bravery that coronavirus is nothing, it’s a scam, we have had enough of coronavirus, I don’t need a mask, let’s party, there’s life beyond worrying over coronavirus. Laxity at any level will impact everyone in the society,” he said at a press conference. “Then we see misplaced fear that ‘I came in contact with a case, I am infected and will surely die’, ‘I need Remdesivir just in case I get the infection’, ‘Let’s get an oxygen cylinder in advance at home’,” Agarwal said.

However, there are some alert and aware citizens also who know that chances of contracting the infection can be minimised by wearing a mask and washing hands, and believe in following the guidelines and in consulting doctors, he said. Agarwal stressed that citizens need to follow all guidelines, take all precautions and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that in the second wave of the pandemic, the rate of the rise in infection has been rapid which has put immense strain on health infrastructure for some time. “Also, doubling of COVID-19 cases has been rapid. That should ease if turnover time reduces.” He observed that this time coronavirus infection is spreading in tier two and three cities. “So, it is important to train doctors about treating this new disease,” Dr Guleria said and underlined avoiding misuse of drugs like remdesivir and tocilizumab.

“Systemic oral steroids are not indicated in case of mild disease and may be counter-productive especially if started too early. One should consult doctors before starting it,” he said.

India on Friday logged 3,86,452 new coronavirus infections, the highest single-day rise so far, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,87,62,976, while active cases crossed the 31-lakh mark. The death toll increased to 2,08,330 with 3,498 new fatalities.

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