Should Continue Precautions, Covid Not Over Yet: Union Health Minister

While the COVID-19 situation is under control, the government is continuously monitoring it and advising states accordingly, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

New Delhi: 

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday played down apprehensions about XE variant of the coronavirus saying it is just another form of Omicron, and asked people to maintain precautions as the pandemic is not over yet.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters where he spoke in detail about the central government’s measures to deal with the pandemic since its outbreak in 2020, he also said that it is up to experts to decide as far as starting vaccination of children below 12 years are concerned.

He, though, noted that very few countries have gone for administering the jabs to children in this age group.

To a question about the government fixing the price of precaution dose at ₹ 225, he said it is the maximum price, and this may still come down due to competition in future as more vaccine manufacturers enter the market.

The precaution dose is being provided free of cost for those above 60 years of age at government centres but others will have to get them at private facilities.

While the COVID-19 situation is under control, the government is continuously monitoring it and advising states accordingly, Mandaviya said.

One has to take precaution as the pandemic is not over yet, he said. “We cannot predict tomorrow,” he added.

The XE variant is a combination or recombinant of both sub-variants — BA.1 and BA.2 — of Omicron.

Hailing India’s fight against the pandemic, Mandaviya said over 97 per cent of the eligible population has been given the first dose of vaccine and 85 per cent both which, he added, played a key role in curbing the severity of the Omicron wave that hit many countries hard.

In a presentation, he highlighted that the total fatality rate (TFR) was much lower in India compared to many developed countries. India reported 380 deaths per million population compared to the global average of 788 deaths, he said.

India was also able to limit the infection’s spread, with 31,383 cases reported per million against 63,458 globally, he said.

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla took a swipe at rival parties for their criticism aimed at the government’s response to the pandemic and said that for them, opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was bigger than the fight against the pandemic.

India implemented the world’s largest vaccination programme under Modi, he said.

As part of its ‘samajik nyay pakhwada’ (fortnight dedicated to social justice) campaign to highlight the central government’s welfare measures, the BJP has been focussing on various initiatives taken by the Modi government.

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