Government’s Timely Assistance
India is well prepared to face the challenges and battle against the second wave of COVID-19. The relentless efforts of the Central government have bolstered the fight against coronavirus and have ensured that every citizen of this country remains safe and secure. The central government is undertaking various measures to ramp up our counter COVID capacities at the city, district and village levels.
Recently, Union Minister Harshvardhan chaired the 26th meeting with the High-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19. He expressed his appreciation to all COVID warriors who have remained steadfast in their duty during the pandemic.
He informed that 17 new labs are going to be added to the INSACOG network to increase the number of samples screened and to allow for more spatial analysis. Currently, this network is served by 10 labs located at different corners of the country.
INSACOG stands for Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia. It was coordinated by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ICMR, and CSIR to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2 regularly through a multi-laboratory network.
https://twitter.com/drharshvardhan/status/1394337627105492995?s=20 (00:04 – 00:48)
Further, Dr Balaram Bhargava, Secretary and DG of ICMR apprised about the innovative changes in testing policy that would widen its scope of application and help in mass screening for COVID. The present testing capacity is around 25 lakhs which include 13 lakh RT-PCR and 12 lakh Rapid Antigen Tests. Under the new testing regimen, testing capacity is expected to increase exponentially to around 45 lakhs.
To speed up the augmentation of testing capacity in the country, the Ministry of Health has approved all RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test kits that have been validated by globally reputed agencies. These kits do not require any additional approval and are allowed for use in India.
The DG of ICMR also notified the Home Isolation guidelines which have been converted into different languages for wider reach. It is important to know that recently, the Ministry of Health issued revised guidelines for Home Isolation of mild /asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. These guidelines mandated about the patients eligible for home isolation, patients receiving necessary guidance, directives for caregivers, appropriate exposure to the patient’s environment, treatment and the appropriate time to seek medical attention.
Apart from this, key counter COVID measures like warning signs for hospitalization, admission to ICU and potential administration of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab were also highlighted in the meeting. It is worth mentioning that the production of Remdesivir has tripled in the country from around 39 lakh to 118 lakh vials per month.
Moreover, Secretary of Pharma, S. Aparna updated about the dedicated cell that has been created to coordinate production and allocation of drugs in demand to treat COVID-19. She also emphasized that States must make equitable distribution among government and private hospitals and should keep the general public informed on availability and shop details, preventing unnecessary stockpiling and ensuring timely payments to the manufactures.
To increase the production of drugs, a three-pronged strategy undertaken was apprised to the Ministers. The strategy entails the Identification of new suppliers and addressing operative issues faced by suppliers, rational distribution of drugs to States and Union Territories and enforcement against hoarding and black-marketing.
Further, the Union Health Secretary also apprised that the Cowin platform is being made available in Hindi and 14 regional languages.
COVID-19 has put tremendous pressure on the healthcare of the country, but timely measures undertaken by the Central government have saved the country from serious consequences on a large scale. From increasing the production of life-saving medicines to providing vaccines to the people, the central government has always made the necessary interventions to safeguard the citizens of our country.