New Delhi: Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on Sunday (September 27, 2020) said that the Indian population is still far from achieving the herd immunity and stated that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is analysing the reports of COVID-19 reinfection.
Harsh Vardhan while talking on the third episode of the 'Sunday Samvaad' cautioned that ICMR’s Sero survey report should not create a sense of complacency in people.
"Even the soon to be released second sero survey indications are that we are far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which necessitates that all of us should continue following COVID appropriate behaviour," expressed the Union Health Minister.
He stated that the first sero survey of May 2020 revealed that the nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection was only 0.73%.
On the emerging evidence that the disease not only impacts our lungs but other organ systems too, especially cardiovascular and renal, Harsh Vardhan said that the Ministry of Health has already set up committees of experts to look into these facets of COVID-19.
He said, "ICMR is also studying this subject. ICMR is also actively investigating and researching reports of reinfection and although the number of reinfection cases is negligible at this moment, the government is fully seized of the importance of the matter."
The Union Health Minister dispelled fears regarding the phased opening of schools and advised on proper protocol to be followed while visiting salons and hair-spa. He asked everyone to always raise awareness regarding COVID appropriate behaviors which he himself does by stopping his car and asking non-compliant people to wear their masks.
He re-emphasized on the need for wearing masks even in places of worship and said that the pandemic can only be fought when the Government and society work together in tandem.
Regarding wide usage of investigational therapies such as remdesivir and plasma therapies, the Union Health Minister stated that the Government has issued regular advisories regarding their rational usage.
"The private hospitals have also been advised against routine use of these investigational therapies," said Harsh Vardhan.
He said that the States and UTs have been advised to lower the prices of coronavirus tests and said that he has spoken personally to several State health ministers regarding the reduction of prices of testing in their respective states.
"In the early days of the pandemic, as the kits were imported, the price tended to be high. But now, supplies of testing kits have also stabilized and domestic production of these kits have also commenced," opined Harsh Vardhan.
He added that the Ministry of Health has written to States and Union Territories to engage private laboratories at mutually agreeable lower rates.