Masks may never go away, Covid-19 guidelines to stay even after a vaccine is available: ICMR chief
Balram Bhargava said the Centre has a target of providing vaccines to 30 crore people by July next year.
Indian Council of Medical Research chief professor Balram Bhargava has said that the health precautions related to the fight against the coronavirus will remain, and people will have to keep wearing masks even after a vaccine is available, the Hindustan Times reported on Sunday.
“They [masks] may even never go away,” Bhargava said while speaking at a webinar, organised by King George’s Medical University in Lucknow. “The vaccine will give some protection but masks or the fabric vaccine will have to continue. I don’t think we can give up these measures including social distancing.”
The ICMR chief said the Centre has a target of providing vaccines to 30 crore people by July next year, adding that the future course of action will be decided following that. “India will develop a vaccine, not just for itself but for 60% of the developing nations,” Bhargava said. “Twenty four manufacturing units and 19 firms will be engaged in developing a Covid-19 vaccine.”
Many health protocols were put in place to keep the coronavirus at bay, and they will stay for a long time, the ICMR chief added. He said the measures, including physical distancing, against the pandemic cannot be given up. However, Bhargava ruled out the possibility of a nationwide lockdown, according to Mint.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening visited the Serum Institute of India in Pune to review the firm’s efforts to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. The Serum Institute has tied up with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce a vaccine in India. The vaccine is seen as offering one of the best hopes for many developing countries because of its cheaper price and ability to be transported and stored at normal temperatures.
Pune was Modi’s last stop in a three-city tour, covering Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, to review the progress in vaccine development. The prime minister also visited drug manufacturer Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad and Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad.
Bharat Biotech is conducting its third phase trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate Covaxin at Genome Valley, around 50 km from Hyderabad. Indian pharmaceutical firm Hetero Labs has also a announced partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce over 100 million [10 crore] doses of the Sputnik V vaccine annually from 2021.
India has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. Availability of the vaccine in India will be subject to approval by domestic regulators, and the Indian government agreeing to purchase them. So far, many other nations including the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia and Israel have made deals to buy millions of doses of the vaccine.
India recorded 41,810 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the country’s tally to 93,92,919. The toll rose to 1,36,696 with 496 more deaths, while the number of active cases stood at 4,53,956. So far, 88,02,267 people have recovered from the disease in the country.
The Indian Council of Medical Research said that it has tested 13,95,03,803 Covid-19 samples so far, including 12,83,449 on Saturday.