Second booster dose against Covid is not required in present situation in India, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.
The minister, who is attending the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in an exclusive interview with Rahul Kanwal, News Director, India Today, and Aaj Tak, said the technical advisory group on vaccination keeps on guiding the government on the requirement of booster dose, dubbed as "precaution dose", in India.
“India has handled the Covid situation very well. In case a need arises for the second precaution dose in future, we will consider, but in the current scenario, the second precaution dose in not required. People who are eligible for a precaution dose should take it,” said Mandaviya citing a trend that when there is a Covid threat people start taking precaution and when it recedes, precaution dose uptake goes down.
When asked about India’s Covid-related efforts, Mandaviya said that the Central government made ample preparations to handle the pandemic during the lockdown itself in a planned manner.
“Even in developed countries, there were major protests against lockdowns. This did not happen in India because Prime Minister Narendra Modi first started spreading awareness about the covid-19 and imposed a lockdown,” said Mandaviya. “Due to the efforts of the government in terms of vaccination and control of the pandemic, while other countries saw first, second, third and fourth waves, India saw first, second and third waves but fourth surge only,” he said.
The minister said that India has been doing genome sequencing of the emerging coronavirus variants and found about 200 of these in the country so far.
“Coronavirus continues to mutate and the threat is not over yet. We cannot say that we are safe. To combat any invasion of the mutant viruses, we have made Air Suvidha compulsory and 2% mandatory random testing at airports. We are stopping the entry of mutant variants at the airports, sea ports and borders. The pandemic is under control and the Indian vaccines have been effective on the mutant variants so far,” said Mandaviya.
Mandaviya said that India is already a leader in vaccines and affordable healthcare and it has provided help to various countries during the pandemic in terms of life-saving drugs and treatments.
When asked that how Indian delegation is strengthening the country’s position at Davos as an important stakeholder shaping the global narrative, Mandaviya said that India’s position is strong and the country is a very good market for the world in all sectors. “Unlike before, now, global companies and government’s reach out to India in the World Economic Forum. “India is getting stronger day by day as a country. During the covid-19 pandemic when other economies are growing at around 2%, India’s GDP growth is around 7%,” said Mandaviya.
Meanwhile, Mandaviya also addressed roundtable discussion on opportunities in R&D and innovation in life sciences at World Economic Forum (WEF). “The government of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership is committed to promoting Indian Life Sciences as a globally competitive sector to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of drugs and medical devices in domestic and global markets,” he said in his address.
The purpose of the meeting was to establish an affordable and accessible life sciences ecosystem, identify the gaps in the life sciences industry, extend opportunities for knowledge exchange and encouragement of innovation in R&D and identify investment opportunities to create a robust R&D and innovation ecosystem to increase the competitiveness of life sciences industry.
Mandaviya, in his address, said that 40% market share of $6.65-trillion life sciences sector lies in innovation-based products. “Promoting drug discovery and innovation will unlock this value and will also enhance the industry’s contribution to Indian economy (additional $10-12 billion in exports every year) and create a large pool of jobs to enhance India’s differentiation vis a vis other developing economy,” he said.
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