Coronavirus live updates: Agility key to countering pandemics, says Economic Survey 2021

The ongoing pandemic has showcased how a healthcare crisis can get transformed into an economic and social crisis, noted the Economic Survey 2020-21.

Stating that COVID-19 had spread worldwide because it is a communicable disease, the Economic Survey noted that the next health crisis may not possibly involve a communicable disease and that India’s healthcare policy must continue focusing on its long-term healthcare priorities.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:

Agility key to countering pandemics

The ongoing pandemic has showcased how a healthcare crisis can get transformed into an economic and social crisis, noted the Economic Survey 2020-21. It said the healthcare policy must not become beholden to ‘saliency bias’, where policy overweighs a recent phenomenon. “To enable India to respond to pandemics, the health infrastructure must be agile,” it said.

“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, a key portfolio decision that healthcare policy must make is about the relative importance placed on communicable versus non-communicable diseases. To enable India to respond to pandemics, the health infrastructure must be agile. For instance, every hospital may be equipped so that at least one ward in the hospital can be quickly modified to respond to a national health emergency while caring for the normal diseases in usual times. Research in building such health infrastructure can guide how to build such flexible wards.”

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EU tightens COVID-19 vaccine export rules

The European Union introduced tighter rules Friday on exports of COVID-19 vaccines that could hit shipments to nations like the United Kingdom, deepening a dispute with London over scarce supplies of potentially lifesaving shots.

Also read: EU, AstraZeneca publish heavily redacted deal in vaccine row

But amid an outcry in Northern Ireland and the UK, the European Commission made clear the new measure will not trigger controls on vaccines shipments produced in the 27-nation bloc to the small territory that is part of United Kingdom bordering EU member Ireland.

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700-plus AIISH staff, students get COVID-19 vaccine

The 700-plus staff and students of the Mysuru-based All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), a premier institute under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for addressing communication disorders, got the first dose of Covishield vaccine.

The three-day vaccination drive was concluded on the institute premises here on Friday.

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Doctors vouch for safety of COVID vaccine

Posts on social media on adverse reactions seem to have created a scare among prospective beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which was started in the country two weeks ago. A section of people, including doctors, are expressing apprehensions, even as many others vouch for its safety. Doctors say there is no cause for worry as mild reactions like rashes, swelling and pain due to the injection are common for any vaccine. However, the death of a couple of health workers, elsewhere in the State after taking the vaccine, is creating apprehension among public.

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Vaccine hesitancy not new to India

Doubts about the efficacy of vaccines is not new in India. The same dilemma was confronted by the British when they rolled out vaccines for plague and cholera over 120 years ago. While religious considerations played a role in the hesitation, a tragic incident where 19 persons died after getting vaccinated added to the reluctance among the citizens.

Fears about religious contamination due to use of taboo meats like cow and pig during the culture of prophylactic vaccines drove large sections of population away from the vaccines. The scientists found a way out by using goat’s meat which was acceptable for culturing the vaccine. “A suitable culture medium has been obtained by digesting goat’s meat in the autoclave at 140°C with hydrochloric acid, and then neutralising the acid medium with caustic soda,” says the Plague Commission Report of 1901.

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(With inputs from our Correspondents, agencies)

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