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Scale-up Covid testing, serosurveys: PM Modi

New Delhi: Calling for continued vigilance and a high state of preparedness against the Coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday directed health authorities to scale up COVID-19 testing and serosurveys and said the facility to get tested regularly and speedily at a low cost must be available to all at the earliest.

Chairing a review meeting of the research and vaccine deployment ecosystem against the pandemic, the Prime Minister also underscored the need for continuous and rigorous scientific testing and validation of traditional medicine treatments.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of AYUSH for conducting evidence-based research and providing reliable solutions in this difficult time, an official statement said.

"The Prime Minister reiterated the country's resolve to provide cost-effective, easily available and scalable solutions for testing, vaccine and medication, not only for India but for the entire world," it said.

At the meeting, also attended by Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan, NITI Aayog Member (Health), Principal Scientific Advisor, senior scientists and other officials, Modi called for continued vigilance and a high state of preparedness against the pandemic.

Modi also appreciated efforts made by Indian vaccine developers and manufacturers to rise to the COVID-19 challenge and committed to continue government facilitation and support for all such efforts.

The Prime Minister said regulatory reform is a dynamic process and experts in every current and emerging domain should be used by the regulator proactively, as many new approaches have emerged.

He also took stock of the Health ministry's comprehensive distribution and delivery mechanism for vaccines, including mechanisms for adequate procurement, and technologies for bulk-stockpiling, filling vials for distribution and ensuring effective delivery.

According to the statement, the Prime Minister directed that both serosurveys and testing must be scaled up and added that the facility to get tested regularly, speedily and inexpensively must be available to all at the earliest.

India's COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 73.07 lakh on Thursday with 67,708 new cases in the last 24 hours, while 63,83,441 people have recuperated so far pushing the national recovery rate to 87.35 per cent, according to the Union Health ministry data.

The death toll has climbed to 1,11,266 with the virus claiming 680 lives in a span of 24 hours in the country. The COVID-19 case fatality rate has, however, further declined to 1.52 per cent.

There are 812390 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 11.11 per cent of the total caseload.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 9,12,26,305 samples have been tested up to October 14 with 11,36,183 samples being tested on Wednesday.

The wait for Covid vaccine may get longer for the young population who are in sound health, World Health Organisation's chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan has said at a social media event of WHO. "Most people agree, it's starting with health care workers, and front-line workers, but even there, you need to define which of them are at highest risk, and then the elderly, and so on," Swaminathan said.

"There will be a lot of guidance coming out, but I think an average person, a healthy young person might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine," she added.

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