The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare was reviewing the COVID-19 situation in Delhi, which has seen a sharp spike in cases

The government is committed to vaccinating over 20 crore citizens including the frontline healthcare workers, and those with comorbidities by the middle of next year, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday.

In a meeting to review the Covid-19 situation in Delhi, Vardhan said, “We are committed to vaccinating 20-25 crore citizens including the frontline healthcare workers, those with comorbidities, and those in a certain age group.”

The Minister noted that at least four vaccine candidates are in the advanced trials of manufacturing in India. He said that the government is planning a detailed strategy to vaccinate the majority of the population.

Speaking about the Covid-19 situation in the country, he highlighted that the whole government approach has helped the country curb the COVID crisis effectively. In this regard, he detailed the role of scientists for repurposing drugs for use in COVID and the formation of bio-repository of such drug candidates.

The Minister urged the officers to instill COVID-appropriate behavior among the masses and blunt the momentum of the infectious disease by the end of the year so that it loses its potency.

Further, comparing the COVID trajectory of Delhi with that of the country, Vardhan noted that the recovery rate of India is more than 92 percent while that of Delhi is 89 percent.

“Against a national case fatality rate of 1.49%, Delhi continues to have a fatality rate of 1.71%,” Vardhan added.

Concerned about the surge in the number of cases in Delhi and noting that false-negative results might give way to complacency among the COVID infected, he pressed for mandatory testing of all Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) negative persons if they develop ILI/SARI symptoms afterward.

During the meeting, Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Sujeet Singh cautioned the State health authorities to be alert in the forthcoming festive and winter season and requested for the formation of a committee of medical experts for better clinical management of COVID patients.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain requested the Centre to increase the number of ICU beds in All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and other Central Hospitals to augment the present capacity which has come under strain.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal informed that the administration is working to inculcate changes in Standard Operating Procedures for more efficient containment of the disease spread.