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COVID-19 vaccines will be made available in the next few days: Harsh Vardhan

The COVID-19 vaccines would be made available ‘to the countrymen’ in the next few days, giving priority to those at risk such as healthcare professionals, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said here on Friday.

The Centre has started a new COVID platform to track particulars of potential vaccine beneficiaries and also issue electronic certificates to them, he said.

We are in the process of ensuring that in the next few days, also in the near future, we should be able to give this vaccine to our countrymen, starting with of course prioritising those who are most at risk, our health professionals, healthcare workers in the public and private sector followed by frontline workers, – Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister

The overall scheme of administering vaccination, which places importance on healthcare professionals, frontline workers like police and for others in subsequent stages, has already been made known to all stakeholders, he said.

Hours later,asked when the vaccination drive shall start, he told journalists, “you will get to know about it soon.”

The union minister, after inspecting the dry run at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital here, expressed complete satisfaction over the preparations.

He said the Integrated Vaccine Complex of HLL Biotech Limited (HBL), which has remained non-functional for six months, would soon be optimally utilised to produce COVID-19 vaccines.

The government has spent over Rs 600 crore to establish the state-of-the-art facility at nearby Chengalpattu, he said.

HBL is a 100 per cent subsidiary of HLL Lifecare Limited, a Government of India Enterprise under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

India, he said, has done extremely well in developing vaccines in the shortest possible time, and two vaccines have been given emergency use authorisation.

In a country that is vast like India with a population of 1.35 billion, everything was done smoothly and meticulously without any glitches.

Earlier, the government used to track the vaccine in terms of the temperature it was stored.

Now we started the new COVID platform in tracking the details of potential beneficiaries, places where they are likely to get the shots, pre and post-vaccination, including giving an electronic certificate and follow it up with the second dose with detailed text messages and reminders, – Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister

The details of this 150-page document has been shared with all stakeholders to make the vaccination drive successful, he added.

The Union Minister lauded Tamil Nadu for handling the coronavirus pandemic successfully, be it meticulous planning, tracing, the 100 per cent RT-PCR testing, besides the excellent facilities in the government sector for patients and a continuing decline in new daily cases.

“Sincerely appreciate the exemplary work done by the Government of TN in collaboration with the centre in fighting COVID-19 They have done well to contain the spread of the virus,” he tweeted.

Vardhan, after visiting Chief Minister K Palaniswami at the secretariat, said he requested him to focus a little more on eliminating tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of international goals.

“India has set an ambitious target to end TB by 2025,five years ahead of the global target.Tamil Nadu can set an example for all other states by achieving this target earlier.”

Also, the minister said he took up the centre’s health and wellness programme with Palaniswami, for taking forward that initiative in Tamil Nadu.

The Centre plans to establish 1.5 lakh centres, focusing on preventive, promotive and positive health in all parts of the country, he said.

In such initiatives as well, he wanted Tamil Nadu to excel, he said.

“We want Tamil Nadu to excel and do things well in time, when the Prime Minister delivers a new India for all Indians by 2022 end,” the minister said.

On the national dry run today, Vardhan said it was a follow up to similar exercises in December and January 2.

It was a sort of a ‘mock’ exercise for ensuring that preparation was thorough for the roll-out of the vaccination drive, he said. On Friday, it is was held across the country, barring three states that had earlier completed it, he said.

According to the Tamil Nadu government, the dry run was conducted in 226 locations across the state.

A year of action has led to the country having one million testing kits per day from a mere one when the pandemic started.

“We are able to export PPE kits, N95 masks and ventilators – almost everything that people used to talk about shortage then. Things transformed for the better due to the inspiration given by the prime minister for the development of Atma Nirbhar Bharat,” Harsh Vardhan said.

During his visit,Vardhan also visited the General Medical Store Depot at Periamedu here, which is one of the four national vaccine storage facilities in the country and reviewed the preparation.

The union minister has presented a memento and a sculpture of Lord Nataraja by Chief Minister Palaniswami. PTI JSP VGN

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