NITI Aayog member VK Paul, who is also the chief of an expert panel coordinating efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in India, said on Sunday that the possibility of a second wave of infections during the winter season cannot be ruled out.
He said it is likely to happen, despite the decline in the total number of fresh coronavirus cases and deaths in the last three weeks as the spread of the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states.
Paul, who is heading the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), said that once the Covid-19 vaccine is available, there will be enough resources to deliver, and make it accessible to citizens.
‘STILL LEARNING ABOUT THE VIRUS’
“In India, the fresh coronavirus cases and number of deaths have declined in the last three weeks and the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states. However, there are five states — Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal — and three to four union territories (UTs) where there is still a rising trend,” Paul told PTI in an interview.
India is in a somewhat better position now, but still has a long way to go because 90 per cent of the people are still susceptible to coronavirus infections, said VK Paul. (Photo for representation: Reuters)
According to the expert panel chief, the country is in a somewhat better position now, but still has a long way to go because 90 per cent of the people are still susceptible to coronavirus infections.
‘COMING MONTHS WILL BE CHALLENGING’
On whether India could see a second wave of coronavirus infections in the winter, Paul said that with the onset of winter, countries across Europe are seeing resurgence of Covid-19 cases. “We cannot rule out (a second coronavirus wave this winter in India). Things can happen and we are still learning about the virus,” he said.
He stressed on Covid-19-appropriate behaviour during festival season and winter months. “Because of the winter season, some increase in pollution in north India as well as festival season, we have to be very careful… Coming months are a challenge. One would be worried that we could lose the gains that we have made,” Paul said.
With the onset of winter, countries across Europe are seeing resurgence of Covid-19 cases, said the expert panel chief. (Photo for representation: PTI)
He also cautioned against any complacency about the decline in the number of fresh cases and called for keeping up the efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. “If we don’t take precaution, if we are not careful, because we are susceptible there can be escalation. God forbid, but we can avoid it. This is in our hands, whether India has another wave or not is very much in our own hands,” the NITI Aayog member said.
‘ENOUGH COLD STORAGE FACILITIES FOR VACCINE’
To a query about storage and distribution of vaccines once it is available, he said India has enough cold storage facilities to an extent and this can be readily augmented as required. “Once the vaccine is available, there will be enough resources for delivering vaccines and making it accessible to the citizens and there will be no concern about resources under those circumstances,” Paul said.
Once the vaccine is available, there will be enough resources for delivering vaccines and making it accessible to the citizens and there will be no concern about resources under those circumstances, said the NITI Aayog member. (Photo for representation: Reuters)
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Saturday that the NEGVAC, in consultation with state governments and all relevant stakeholders, has prepared a detailed blueprint for vaccine storage, distribution and administration. The group, in consultation with states, is working actively on prioritisation and distribution of vaccines.
According to the Union health ministry, the coronavirus death toll climbed to 1,14,031 on Sunday. The number of active cases remained below eight lakh for the second consecutive day. India is the second worst hit country in terms of Covid-19 cases after the United States.
(With inputs from PTI)