Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan chairing the 20th meeting of the Group of Ministers on COVID-19 in New Delhi on August 29, 2020.
Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan chairing the 20th meeting of the Group of Ministers on COVID-19 in New Delhi on August 29, 2020.

India has among lowest global COVID-19 fatality rates, says Harsh Vardhan

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, August 30, 2020

India has one of the lowest global COVID fatality rates with total recoveries surpassing 26 lakh and testing crossing a new peak of 4 crore tests.

Chairing the 20th meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 here on Saturday, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said, “In the month since the last meeting of GoM on July 31, we have made tremendous strides in containing the disease. As many as 26.4 lakh people have already recovered. The country’s Case Fatality Rate is at its lowest at 1.81% and consecutively the Recovery Rate has increased to 76.47%.”

The Minister said the health infrastructure in the country has been strengthened. Only 0.29% of the total cases were on ventilators, 1.93% in ICU and 2.88% on oxygen support. A total of 1,576 labs led to an upsurge in testing and the goal of 10 lakhs tests per day has been fulfilled.

More than 9 lakh samples were tested in the last 24 hours and this has led to the cumulative total number of tests crossing the 4 crore mark, he said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also informed the GOM that more than 338 lakhs of N-95 masks, nearly 135 lakh of PPEs and about 27,000 ventilators have been provided by the Centre to the States/UTs.

Other participants in the virtual meeting were S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge), Chemicals and Fertilizers, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare and Nityanand Rai, Minister of State, Home Affairs besides Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog.

Dr Harsh Vardhan instructed the Health Ministry to develop SOPs for the Members of Parliament and the Legislative Assembly sessions comprising COVID protocols and preventive measures. The GOM also expressed concern about the coming festival season and advised everyone to adopt safe and COVID appropriate behaviour.

The GoM was briefed on the current status of COVID-19 in India. The global comparison depicted that India has one of the lowest cases per million (2424) and deaths per million (44) compared to the global average of 3161 and 107.2 respectively. It was noted that despite being resource-constrained and densely populated, timely lockdown and rapid augmentation of infrastructure by India have enabled to keep the case/ million and deaths/million considerably lower compared to other countries.

Within the country, eight States (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana) contribute to around 73% of the active caseload, as of today.

Moreover, seven States (Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) account for 81% of total deaths. The GoM was briefed on the guidance note issued on the bi-directional TB and COVID screening, diabetes management in COVID facilities, etc., and the meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary with the States where they were advised to ramp up testing and measures were suggested to contain the spread and reduce mortality below 1%.

Dr Sujit Singh, Director (NCDC) presented a detailed report on surveillance efforts undertaken in India during the pandemic through the IDSP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme) network. He highlighted the challenges faced and the learnings from the various States. He also threw light on the trajectory of COVID in some States and elaborated on their response and management.

Dr Vinod Paul, Chairperson of the Empowered Group-1 on Medical Emergency management plan apprised the GoM of the process of COVID vaccine development in India and around the world. He stated that 29 candidates, including 2 Indian ones, are in Clinical Trials out of which 6 are in Phase III.

In India, Bharat Biotech’s vaccine candidate based on inactivated virus procured by ICMR is in Phase II trial along with Zydus Cadila’s candidate which is based on viral DNA. The Oxford vaccine candidate developed by Serum Institute of India is already in Phase III trial in Maharashtra and some other States.

He also informed the meeting about the progress made by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19. The group is tasked with facilitation of vaccine development including issues of trial and stockpiling, sorting out issues of financing, risk management, selection of potential beneficiaries and their order of reference, envisioning logistics, scale-up, digital system, defining principles for selecting beneficiary categories, and defining the scientific basis for selecting vaccine. Three meetings of the Expert Group has been held so far.

Bhushan apprised the GOM on the efforts made by the Health Ministry towards mental health during the pandemic. He also stated that the Central Government was in direct communication with the States that were reporting a surge in cases and those with higher mortality rates. These were being guided towards measures that would result in saving lives and speedy recoveries.

Meanwhile, the single-day tests have also seen an upsurge. Already having achieved the testing capacity of 10 lakh tests per day, 9,28,761 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. This has boosted the Tests Per Million (TPM) with a sharp increase to 29,280. As is seen in many States/UTs that have increased the testing, the positivity rate will eventually fall with higher levels of testing. The national positivity rate has remained low at 8.57% and is constantly falling.

A significant feature of India’s management of COVID-19 cases is the growing rate of recovered patients. A higher number of patients are recovering and being discharged from hospitals and home isolation (in case of mild and moderate cases).

The COVID-19 recoveries crossed 26 lakh today. Recovery of 2,648,998 patients has been made possible because of the holistic and strategic policy of testing aggressively, tracking comprehensively & treating efficiently in a supervised home isolation and facility isolation and hospitals.

The actual caseload of the country is the active cases (752,424) which is only 21.72%of the total positive cases. They are under active medical supervision. With a consistent and sustained increase in recoveries, the gap between recovered patients and active COVID-19 cases reach nearly 19 lakh.