Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Indicates COVID-19 Vaccine Possible Early Next Year

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the government is aiming to bring down India’s COVID-19 mortality rate to less than 1 per cent from the current 1.64 per cent, which is still the lowest in the world. Replying to a debate in Rajya Sabha, he said the country’s recovery rate of 78-79 per cent is one of the highest in the world, adding though the total cases may have crossed 50 million, active cases are less than 20 per cent.

Deaths in India due to coronavirus pandemic are less than many nations in Europe and the government was determined to better the testing rate of the US, he said. Vardhan said there are chances that a vaccine could come in the country early next year but till then it was necessary for people to follow social distancing and wear masks. The minister said that despite the number of cases, the mortality rate in the country remained one of the lowest in the world. He said steps like testing, isolation of infected persons and other steps can be attributed to this lower mortality rate.

Citing the examples of Spain and Brazil, he said the mortality rate in those countries was over 11 times that of India. “We want to bring it (mortality rate) to less than one per cent. We have 50 lakh cases right now but out of these, only 10 lakh are active cases in the country right now,” Vardhan said.

He said that various international experts had predicted that the cases in India will rise to 300 million by July-August, resulting in death of 5-6 million people. “In the country of 135 crore people, we are doing 11 lakh tests now and are second to the US only. It has been possible only due to the united fight against the disease,” he said.

On development of a vaccine, he said that the Science and Technology ministry, ICMR and drug companies have come together for a solution. Even this matter is also being personally monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added.

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