New Delhi: A decision on booster dose and Covid-19 jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Friday. His comments came even as India stepped up surveillance for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Mansukh Mandaviya was replying to an 11-hour-long debate on the Covid-19 pandemic in the Lok Sabha. He informed that RT-PCR tests have been conducted on more than 16,000 passengers who arrived on 58 flights from ‘at-risk’ countries. He said 18 of them have tested positive for the virus. The minister said the swab samples of these 18 passengers have been sent for genome sequencing to screen for the Omicron variant of the virus.
During the debate Thursday, several members had flagged the issue of booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines. They had expressed concern over the new variant of the virus, two cases of which were detected in India.. “The question is not about economics or politics. The question about booster dose and vaccines for kids will be decided by our team of experts. We will follow the scientific guidance we get from our experts,” Mandaviya said.
Mandaviya hit out at the opposition for playing politics over ventilators, which were funded through the PM-CARES Fund. He hailed the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the testing times.
Mandaviya said orders were placed for the supply of 58,000 ventilators, mostly with public sector companies. He stated that 50,200 breathing machines had been delivered to states and 48,000 have been installed at various hospitals.
Besides ventilators, the government also ensured availability of Covid-19 protocol medicines across India to ensure that the states did not appear wanting in the fight against the pandemic, added the Minister.
Mandaviya also slammed the opposition parties for creating doubts about homegrown vaccines which affected the vaccination drive.
“It is sad that some opposition leaders did not feel it necessary to keep aside politics at time when the country was faced with the toughest time of the century. They made every effort to weaken the fight against Covid,” Mandaviya said.
“First, they instigated people during lockdown and later made fun of the largest free food grain distribution programme since independence and insulted the poor. When Indian scientists developed a vaccine, they raised questions. When the vaccination drive started, they made efforts to mislead the people,” Mandaviya said.
To questions on the vaccination drive, the minister said the government was committed to fully vaccinate all the eligible beneficiaries. He said 85 per cent of the beneficiaries have received the first dose, while 50 per cent have been fully vaccinated. He dared Lok Sabha members to ensure 100 per cent vaccination in their respective constituencies to speed up the inoculation drive.
“Twenty-two crore vaccine doses are already available with the states and the Centre will make available an additional 10 crore this month,” Mandaviya said. He added that the government had started ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ (knock on every door) campaign to speed up vaccination.