New Delhi, Aug 04, 2020: Recently-appointed Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters that the Ministry of Health utilised PM Cares fund to procure about 50,000 ventilators whose monetary volume is close to Rs 2,000 crore. Bhushan, along with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balram Bhargava addressed key questions about India’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In response to a question about the rejection of AvGa ventilators, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that these devices of a different make were rejected in Mumbai. He further clarified that the ventilators in question were donated to BMC-run hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Maharashtra by an NGO.
An order for 30,000 ventilators has been placed with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bhushan said adding that Scanray provides tech support to BEL. Further orders of 13,500 ventilators from Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) and 10,000 ventilators from AgVa have been placed by the Ministry of Health, the Health Secretary added during the press conference on Tuesday.
Bhushan also said that only 0.27 per cent of total active cases in India are on ventilator support across the country. About 18,000 ventilators have reached states, he told reporters. In addition, the Health Secretary added that 50 districts account for 66 per cent of the confirmed cases in India.
Responding to questions, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that all three strains of Covid-19 are similar. "The virus has seen minor mutations, it generally takes 10-50 years to mutate," Bhushan stated.
ICMR-DG Balram Bhargava, on the other hand, said that physical distancing is the best vaccine for now and in the near future. "The need for a vaccine is urgent but there is a dilemma. The pandemic is progressing rapidly and the vaccine is taking time. There are three vaccines in India," Bhargava told reporters.
He went on to add, "Bharat Biotech has completed its phase- one study. Phase-2 safety study has begun and it is a very early efficacy study. The first phase of DNA vaccine of Zydus Cadilla is complete and phase-2 has started at 11 sites in India. Approvals for phase-2 and phase-3 of clinical trials for the Oxford vaccine have been given."
During the press conference, officials also mentioned that a total of two crore tests for Covid-19 have been conducted in India to date, 25-30 per cent of which are rapid antigen tests. The per million testing in 24 states is higher compared to the national average, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Bhushan further added that 67 per cent deaths have been reported in males and 32 per cent in females. "50 per cent of the deaths were reported among people aged above 60, 37 per cent in people aged between 45 and 60, and 11 per cent deaths in the age group 26-44.