New Delhi: India has so far tested 3,86,791 persons for COVID-19, out of which 37, 173 tests were conducted on April 18.
The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) representative, briefing the media in New Delhi on April 19 on the government’s preparedness and action taken, said, “There has been an improvement in (the number of) lab testing (of samples). From yesterday’s testing, 29,278 tests were conducted at the labs which are in the ICMR networks. The rest, 7,886, were done in private labs.”
He said there are 194 labs which are under ICMR. Private tests were conducted by 82 labs.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (M0HFW) representative at the joint press briefing of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), joint secretary Lav Agarwal, said the government, while ensuring that social distancing is taking place, is putting in efforts to build up hospital infrastructure to handle the pandemic.
“In terms of building hospital infrastructure, 755 (COVID-19) dedicated hospitals have been readied. As many as 1,389 dedicated healthcare centres have been readied, which means, the total healthcare facilities for severe and critical cases is 2,144,” he said.
The ministry shared a video clip of how Karnataka’s Victoria Hospital has been turned into a COVID-19 dedicated hospital.
Agarwal said the government has created “a high level task force” to work on the vaccine and drug testing and “science frontiers”.
He said the task force would comprise of Member, Niti Aayog, the principal scientific adviser to the government, Ayush Ministry, ICMR, the Department of Science and Technology, Dept of Biotechnology, CISR and DRDO. He said, “The director general of Health Services and the Drug Controller would also be its members.”
The official said the main aim of the task force would be to speed up the efforts at enabling the academia, the industry and the international efforts in finding a solution to the pandemic. “Under this, a central coordination committee has been formed within the Dept of Biotechnology. Its major effort would be to identify pathways for vaccine development” while monitoring the progress in this regard at the international level and ensuring availability of the required facilitation at the government level.
To an online question, seeking ICMR’s take on a claim by scientists at Oxford University that the vaccine, Zedox, can work against coronavirus, the representative said, “Like I said before, as many as 70 different groups are working in search of a vaccine (against COVID-19). This is one of the groups. In total, five groups have come to the human phase (of testing), which means they have passed the animal studies. The animals didn’t have any side effects. They have developed the required antibodies due to it and that is they are going ahead with it. All these scientists’ groups are hopeful. Else, they will not go ahead with it. We too should be hopeful that this (endeavour) becomes successful.”
“We will all get the benefit from whoever is successful. The trial has begun in April and is likely to show results within six months. Maybe the interim results will come even before it. If and when it comes, we will see,” he added.
In the April 18 briefing, the ICMR representative had said that the Council is conducting a study on those health workers who have taken the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary measure. It will also look into the efficacy of the vaccine for tuberculosis and the BCG vaccine against COVID-19.