Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 16
The government on Tuesday asserted that COVID-19 vaccines were not being sent to foreign countries at the cost of Indian citizens and a “healthy balance is being maintained”.
Announcing this in Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour, Minister for Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said, “Vaccines to foreign countries are not being sent at the expense of Indian citizens. A healthy balance is being maintained.”
Till now, 5.94 crore doses of vaccine have been sent to foreign countries, the Minister said, asserting that science “should benefit everyone”.
Further highlighting the pace of vaccination in the country, the Minister said, it was only yesterday that 30 lakh people got the vaccine jabs.
On the question of when all of the entire Indian population would get vaccinated, the Minister said, “The criteria has been fixed according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international standards and it is a dynamic process. Anyone who wants to get vaccinated can register on the portal and get inoculated.”
When asked if people above 60 years of age can have the facility to get vaccinations at home, the Minister said, “This issue has been flagged to us. In hospitals, people are kept under observation for 30 minutes after getting vaccinated. This matter will be raised before the expert committee, if it does not compromise their health, it can be considered.”
On the efficacy of the vaccines, Harsh Vardhan said the national expert group is abreast of all developments within and outside the country.
When pointedly asked about the efficacy and coverage of the vaccines against UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of COVID-19, the Minister said, “This information is already in the public domain. We have access to genome sequencing data. Right now, experts are clear that a particular vaccine is effective against mutated virus.”
Harsh Vardhan also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the generous allocation of fund vaccine purpose for the financial year 2021-22. He said, for this year it is Rs 35,000 crore and the Finance Minister has assured that if required more funds can be provided.
On the issue of medical education in the country, the Minister said, 75 medical colleges are sanctioned across the country in the third phase, as 157 medical colleges are in various stages of development. Till 2014, there were 50,000 MBBS seats in the country, but since the Modi government came to power 30,000 seats have been added in the past six years.