12th meeting of Group of Ministers reviews efforts by science & technology institutions to deal with COVID-19 in diagnosis, vaccines & drugs, among others
New Delhi: As the number of people infected with COVID-19 has now risen to 13,387 in the country, the 12th meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was held at Nirman Bhawan in Delhi on Friday. Under the chairpersonship of Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister of health and family welfare, a detailed discussion was held on the impact of extended lockdown and to create a further roadmap.
The GoM also reviewed the efforts by science & technology institutions to deal with COVID-19 in diagnosis, vaccines, drugs, hospital equipment accessories and general wellness.
The department of science & technology, department of biotechnology, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and department of atomic energy (DEA) and ministry of health and family welfare are even working together to create a new rapid and accurate diagnostics that may give results within 30 minutes. They are also developing innovative pooling strategies to boost the number of people that can be tested.
The discussion also took into perspective the progress on vaccine development spanning with the inactivated virus. The Indian government is also working with global partners to ensure that effective vaccines can be developed, and made available as soon as possible
Production of ancillary support devices such as personal protective equipment, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, CSIR engineering labs is being augmented by indigenous designs of Sree Chitra Tiurumalai Institute of Medical Science and Technology. Various indigenous manufacturing of RT-PCR kits has already started and are said to produce 10 lakh kits per month from May 2020. Additionally, 5 lakh Rapid Antibody test kits have already been distributed in all States and Districts on the basis of a high case burden.
Moreover, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has shared forecasting tools with States/District administrators for better planning of infrastructure across different COVID facilities based on the assessment of caseloads. Also as of now a total of 1919 hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 having 1,73,746 isolation beds and 21,806 ICU beds are made available.
The press release also stated that before the lockdown, India’s doubling rate was about three days. For the past seven days, the doubling rate is 6.2 days. Nineteen states/UTs (Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Ladakh, Himachal, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, UP, Karnataka, J&K, Punjab, Assam, Tripura) are presently showing a higher doubling rate, which is better than the national average. This in turn reflects that rate of increase of cases in these places has been reduced to some extent.
An increase of 1,007 new cases and 23 new deaths have been reported since April 16, with a total of 13,387 confirmed cases for COVID-19 in the country. As many as 1,749 persons have been cured or discharged after recovery.