Calling for full preparedness to ensure speedy access to COVID-19 vaccines for every citizen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday suggested developing a vaccine delivery system on the lines of conduct of polls and disaster management while involving all levels of government and citizen groups.
Chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the preparedness of vaccine delivery, distribution, and administration, the prime minister also noted a steady decline in the daily cases and the growth rate.
At the same time, he also cautioned against any complacency at the decline and called for keeping up the efforts to contain the pandemic.
He insisted on continued social distancing and COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing the mask, regularly washing hands and sanitation, especially in the wake of upcoming festival season.
The meeting was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Principal Secretary to PM, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, Principal Scientific Advisor, senior scientists, officers of PMO, and officials from various other departments.
In a statement, the PMO said three vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which two are in Phase II and one is in Phase-III.
It further said Indian Scientists and research teams are collaborating and strengthening the research capacities in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
There are further requests from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Qatar and Bhutan for clinical trials in their countries. To help the global community, the prime minister further directed that we should not limit our efforts to our immediate neighbourhood but also reach out to the entire world in providing vaccines, medicines and IT platforms for vaccine delivery system.
National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in consultation with state governments and all relevant stakeholders have prepared and presented a detailed blueprint of vaccine storage, distribution, and administration.
The Expert Group, in consultation with states, is working actively on prioritisation and distribution of the vaccine.
Modi further directed that keeping in view the geographical span and diversity of the country, the access to the vaccine should be ensured speedily.
He stressed that every step in the logistics, delivery, and administration should be put in place rigorously.
'It must include advanced planning of cold storage chains, distribution network, monitoring mechanism, advance assessment, and preparation of ancillary equipment required, such as vials, syringes etc,' the statement said.
'The prime minister further directed that we should make use of experience of successful conduct of elections and disaster management in the country.
'The prime minister said that in a similar manner vaccine delivery and administration systems should be put in place.
'This should involve the participation of states/UTs/district-level functionaries, civil society organisations, volunteers, citizens, and experts from all necessary domains.
'The entire process should have a strong IT backbone and the system should be designed in such a manner so as to have a lasting value to our healthcare system,' the PMO statement said.
It further said two pan-India studies on the Genome of SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19 virus) in India conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) suggest that the virus is genetically stable and there is no major mutation in the virus.
India's COVID-19 caseload has gone past 74 lakh, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease has crossed 65 lakh pushing the recovery rate to 87.78 per cent, according to data updated by the Union health ministry on Saturday.
The coronavirus death toll climbed to 1,12,998 with the virus claiming 837 lives in a day, while the infection tally mounted to 74,32,680 with 62,212 new cases being reported, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The active cases of coronavirus infection dropped below eight lakh for the first time in one-and-half months, the ministry said.