In the Times Network India Economic Conclave 2021–Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Science & Technology, talks about the current situation of Covid-19 in the country and how the vaccination drive is planned to keep a check on rising virus cases. Edited excerpts:
Because there has been so much talk about the Covid induced disruptions, is there a probability or a possibility potentially of a lockdown?
Dr Harsh Vardhan: You see, vaccination of people is ongoing and is increasing its pace with each passing day. Priority groups have been identified on the basis of recommendations of national expert group on vaccine administration for Covid-19. The focus is to protect those at highest risk of mortality and those involved in pandemic response.
As of today, 5.31 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country. You may appreciate that in January, per day coverage was 2.4 lakh whereas in the last week of March, it was 20 lakh doses per day. Now, the government has expanded the coverage to citizens above 45 years, the pace of vaccination is going to increase further.
As for imposing restrictions, one must understand that Covid-19 situation continues to evolve and change each day. The silver lining here is that we are better prepared now to tackle any challenges that it throws our way. Decisive steps which include strict enforcement of Covid protocols as well as creating micro containment zones wherever needed, will be used to keep a check on the rise in number of cases.
Rahul Shivshankar: You are emphasising a lot on the vaccine drive, how could you make this into a jan andolan and what are the future plans in this regard?
Dr Harsh Vardhan: Stakeholders across ministries, departments, professional bodies, medical colleges, NGOs, CSOs, media houses, private sector, youth and women network have been involved in this drive which is being co-ordinated as a jan andolan. The ongoing vaccination drive is being strengthened on a daily basis to increase the number of vaccinations administered each day.