COVID-19 | Government to wait for expert view on booster dose, jabs for children

Decision should not be hurried or politicised, says Health Minister

Updated - December 04, 2021 09:16 am IST

Published - December 03, 2021 07:33 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A health worker gets ready to administer a Covishield vaccine dose. File

A health worker gets ready to administer a Covishield vaccine dose. File

Any decision on COVID-19 vaccine booster dose or vaccines for children would be strictly based on the recommendations made by the expert committee looking into the matter. This decision could not be hurried or politicised. It should be based on pure science and knowledge, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday.

Parliament Proceedings | December 3, 2021

He was speaking in the Lok Sabha at the end of an over 11-hour discussion that began on Thursday on the pandemic and the government’s response.

Applauding the work done by the scientific community and the medical staff, he stated that the nation had so far reported 3.46 crore COVID-19 cases and 4.6 lakh deaths (which is 1.36% of the total cases).

Also read: Genome consortium advises booster shots

“This is one of the lowest numbers in the world. The first case of COVID-19 in India was reported on January 13, 2020 in Kerala. But India held its first meeting of the joint monitoring committee constituted by the Centre earlier that month. This means that we were alert and started working immediately as the world was alerted about the virus,’’ he asserted.

‘Bold decisions taken’

The government, at the beginning of the pandemic, started working on strengthening the weak medical infrastructure and “without blaming any previous governments, we worked for results. In the last two years, bold decisions were taken.”

Also read: Should children be given COVID-19 jabs?

“There was a time when it took three years for approval if someone did research on a vaccine. We scrapped those rules and the nation got COVID-19 vaccine after research within a year,’’ he claimed.

Responding to multiple questions on deaths during the pandemic due to oxygen shortage, he observed that the Union government had multiple times sought data from the State governments, which had so far not given data on any specific number of cases.

“A total of 19 States responded and it’s only Punjab which stated in writing that four suspected deaths were there and that too being investigated. We made it public. Still, politics is happening,” he noted.

Also read: Expert panel clears Covaxin for emergency use in 2-18 age group

“We have ensured that oxygen plants and ventilators are made available to all the States during the pandemic and they have sent us certificates of the installation and manpower training of both these items. Help has also been provided to all the States using the PM-CARES Fund. The Central Government hasn’t stopped at this. We are now also working with the States to ensure that they have a 50-bed critical care medical facility in each district to ensure that the nation is prepared for any further pandemics,’’ he said.

He added that ₹100 crore would be spent in each district through the Prime Minister’s Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission for this.

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