After nearly 30 days, the Union health ministry held a press briefing to address the novel coronavirus situation in the country yesterday.
The ministry categorically denied that India had reached the stage of community transmission but admitted that there had been some localised outbreaks of the virus.
Rajesh Bhushan, the Officer on Special Duty, Ministry of Health, said: “We should not forget that in our country, 49 districts alone account for 80% of COVID-19 cases. In a country of more than 733 districts, if 49 districts account for 80% cases, then it is not justified to talk about community transmission.”
Bhushan also said that because India has around 2.6 lakh active cases, it has managed a situation where its health care infrastructure is not “unduly burdened” and is “not creaking due to the pressure”.
Last month, however, news reports highlighting the shortage of beds in New Delhi, India’s capital city had been pouring in. Beds became available only after a few facilities were set up by the government.
Answering questions on ICMR’s COVID-19 vaccine trials, Bhushan said that the letter’s intent is only to expedite duly approved clinical trials without compromising on safety and security concerns. He said that the “August 15 timeline was given to cut unnecessary red tape involving the vaccine trial”.
Bhushan also said that both vaccines being developed by Bharat Biotech and Cadila Healthcare in India had completed animal toxicity studies after approval. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has given approvals for phase I and II trials so far.