AIIMS director said there is no data to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent Covid-19 waves
New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre, in a modification of its vaccination policy, would, acting through the states, administer free doses of vaccines for the 18-plus population, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday that fresh orders for vaccines have been placed.
“In an immediate follow-up of the PM’s announcement of the changes in the guidelines for the national Covid vaccination programme, the health ministry has placed an order with the Serum Institute of India for 25 crore doses of Covishield and with Bharat Biotech for 19 crore doses of Covaxin. These 44 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be available till December 2021, starting now. Additionally, 30 per cent of the advance for procurement of both the Covid vaccines has been released to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. Apart from these two vaccines, an order for 30 crore vaccines have been placed with Biological E’s Corbevax. Combining all the three vaccines, we will have 74 crore doses,” said Dr V.K. Paul, the Niti Aayog’s member (health).
The Centre on Tuesday also set the maximum price that private hospitals can charge for the three Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the country -- Covishield Rs 780 per dose, Covaxin Rs 1,410 per dose and Sputnik V Rs 1,145 per dose. In a letter to all states and Union territories, the health ministry suggested that appropriate strict action be taken against private vaccination centres for overcharging. The health ministry asked states to ensure that the prices declared by various private Covid centres do not exceed the ceiling.
The Serum Institute of India sells its Covishield to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose (excluding GST). Bharat Biotech has set the cost of its Covaxin at Rs 1,200 a dose for private establishments. Both vaccines are supplied to the Central government at a cost of Rs 150 a dose. Sputnik-V is given to private hospitals at Rs 948 per dose.
“The private hospitals may charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 per dose as service charges. State governments may monitor the price being so charged,” the ministry said.
India, meanwhile, on Tuesday reported less than one lakh daily new cases of Covid-19 after 63 days, with 86,498 fresh detections in the last 24 hours. This figure was the lowest in 66 days. India's active caseload has declined to 13.03 lakhs and 1.82 lakh patients recovered in the last 24 hours. The health ministry said recoveries continue to outnumber daily new cases for over 26 days and the national recovery rate is now 94.29 per cent. The nation’s daily positivity rate has fallen to 4.62 per cent.
The director of New Delhi’s AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, said there is no data to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent Covid-19 waves. “It is a piece of misinformation that subsequent waves of the Covid-19 pandemic are going to cause severe illness in children. There is no data -- either from India or globally -- to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent waves,” Dr Guleria said. He said 60-70 per cent of the children who got infected and were admitted to hospitals during India’s second wave either had co-morbidities or low immunity; healthy children recovered with mild illness without any need for hospitalisation.
He said SARS-Cov-2 was a respiratory virus and multiple waves occur when there is a susceptible population. “When a large part of the population acquires immunity against the infection, the virus becomes endemic, and infection becomes seasonal -- like H1N1, that commonly spreads during monsoon or winter. Waves can occur due to change in the virus (such as new variants). Since new mutations become more infectious, there is a higher chance for the virus to spread. One of the reasons behind a wave can be human behaviour. Whenever cases rise, there is a fear in people and human behaviour changes. People strictly follow Covid appropriate behaviour and non-pharmaceutical interventions help break the chain of transmission. But when unlocking resumes, people tend to think not much infection will happen and they do not follow Covid appropriate behaviour. Due to this, the virus again starts spreading in the community, leading potentially to another wave. When enough people are vaccinated or when we acquire natural immunity against the infection, then these waves will stop,” Dr Guleria said.