Vardhan distributes blankets, masks, soaps among destitute at AIIMS' Vishram Sadan

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan distributed woolen blankets, masks and soaps among the destitute staying at Vishram Sadan in AIIMS, New Delhi, and thanked the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) for the initiative, his ministry said on Tuesday.

At event on Monday evening, Vardhan said the IRCS supplemented the government's efforts during the coronavirus-forced lockdown, helping those who those stranded and ensured availability of blood throughout the pandemic.

About the challenge posed by COVID-19, he highlighted vaccines have been approved and the government has already started the largest immunisation drive in the world, according to a statement by the health ministry.

The minister also stated that indigenous development of vaccine 'shows the great capacity our country has and is a big boost to the prime minister's 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) initiative'.

Appreciating the IRCS's active role in reducing the impact of COVID-19, Vardhan said, 'The multi-dimensional response with a broad range of activities by IRCS for the ongoing COVID-19 emergency is testimonial of its capacity as an organization and moreover, the commitment and relentless services by our volunteers.' 'IRCS has deployed more than 40,000 trained volunteers in more than 500 districts across the country and has contributed immensely in reducing the impact of COVID-19,' he said. PTI PLB NSD