Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday urged the public to remain calm amid a surge in Covid-19 infections. He noted the scarcity of oxygen in the country and said that getting the correct information related to it was crucial. “Those who need oxygen should get it but it’s not right if someone thinks he/she needs oxygen, due to lack of knowledge,” he said.

Vardhan also said that the war against Covid-19 began with no knowledge about the virus but they were now armed with some information, according to ANI. The Union health minister said that the fatality rate in India was 1.11%. “We need to focus on the treatment and diagnosis of Covid patients,” the Union health minister said, according to ANI. “We need to provide medical advice to them through telecommunication.”

Vardhan said that within three hours of opening the registration for Covid-19 vaccines for beneficiaries between 18 and 45, nearly 88 lakh people were able to get registered for the inoculation drive, reported ANI.

The Union health minister’s remarks came a day after registration for all adults began. Multiple social media users had complained that the government’s CoWin portal, its mobile app and the Aarogya Setu app had all crashed within minutes of the registrations opening for all adults. Many also complained that they could not book appointments for getting the shots in their state.

“CoWin handled the registrations very seamlessly,” Vardhan claimed. “They [adults between 18 and 45] will get themselves vaccinated according to the appointment. The whole process was seamless.”

On complaints from some states that they do not have Covid-19 vaccines, Vardhan said that the Centre allocated coronavirus vaccines to the governments according to their performance in terms of vaccination. “We have given more than 16 crore doses of vaccines to states, out of which more than 15 crores doses have been administered,” he added.

India’s liberalised and accelerated phase-3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination will begin from May 1. Potential beneficiaries can either register directly on CoWIN portal or through the Aarogya Setu app.

“More than 1 crore Covid vaccine doses [1,06,08,207] are still available with the States/UTs to be administered,” the Union health ministry said in a release. “More than 20 Lakh [20,48,890] vaccine doses will be received in addition by the States/UTs within the next three days.”

The Union government also said that the total coronavirus vaccine doses received by Maharashtra as on 28th April 2021 (at 8 am) are 1,63,62,470. “Of this, the total consumption including wastage (0.22%) was 1,56,12,510,” the health ministry release said. “Balance of 7,49,960 vaccine doses is still available with the state for administration to the eligible population groups.”

India is reporting an alarming number of Covid-19 infections everyday. On Thursday, India registered 3,79,257 new coronavirus cases that pushed the total number of infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 1,83,76,524. This is the highest ever single-day rise in cases reported by any country so far, and the eighth consecutive day when India has recorded more than 3 lakh cases.

The country also reported a record increase in deaths in a day, logging 3,645 fatalities. With this, the toll climbed to 2,04,832.

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Vaccination in India

On April 19, the Union health ministry said that vaccine manufacturers will now have to allot 50% of the doses produced to the Centre. The manufacturers will be allowed to sell the remaining 50% to state governments and private organisations in the open market.

India has been inoculating its population with Covishield and Covaxin. The Centre’s quota of vaccines is used to inoculate those above 45 years of age, free of cost.

Meanwhile, the state governments have raised objections against differential pricing of vaccines and on having to procure the shots at open market prices to inoculate those in the age group of 18-45.

But the Centre has dismissed these arguments as patently false. “The actual situation is that states are getting one guaranteed channel of free vaccine supply, while it can simultaneously procure vaccines from another channel as per its aspirations and commitment to its people,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.