NEW DELHI: Amid concerns about a fresh rise in Covid-19 cases in many states, home minister Amit Shah on Monday reviewed the situation across the country and asked the health ministry to speed up the vaccination drive in order to control spread of the infection.
As it moves to expand the vaccination process to the 50-plus age group, the Centre is looking to rope in the private sector in a major way to cover a much larger target population of 27 crore people. This will also include those who are below 50 but have serious co-morbidities that put them at higher risk of mortality from the infection.
Niti Aayog member health Dr V K Paul said details of the next phase of vaccinations were being firmed up and private sector participation would be on a large scale.
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“Even now, the private sector is prominently involved in vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers. Out of 10,000 vaccination sessions on any given day, 2,000 are being conducted by private sector partners,” he said. “And as we move to a much speedier programme, the private sector engagement will become deeper and wider,” he added.
The government is aiming up to 50,000 sessions each day even as 67% and 40% of registered health and frontline workers have been inoculated with the first dose of Covid vaccines. Besides, 11.15 lakh health workers have received the second dose of the vaccine. “Around 40-50% of total sessions will be organised in private hospitals,” an official source said.
This is a timely step considering the gargantuan task of vaccinating an estimated 70 to 80 crore people. Left to the government machinery alone, it would take far too long to accomplish. But it must also be ensured that proper checks and balances are in place, particularly given the fact that the vaccines only have emergency use approval at this stage.
A total of 1.14 crore doses of vaccines were administered till Monday evening through 2,44,071 sessions. Three states and one UT — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Lakshadweep — have vaccinated more than 75% of registered health and frontline workers with the first dose.
The Centre has asked states to increase vaccination session sites and also keep a strict vigil in terms of surveillance of positive cases as Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh recorded an increase in daily new Covid-19 cases.
Punjab reported 383 new cases on Sunday, whereas Chhattisgarh had 259 cases and Madhya Pradesh 297.
Among those who attended the meeting included health minister Harsh Vardhan, cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, principal secretary to the PM P K Mishra, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, ICMR chief Balram Bhargava and Dr Paul, apart from secretaries of the home and health ministries.
The home minister took stock of the coronavirus situation in the country, particularly in the states which have witnessed a spike in cases recently.