India saved over 3.4 million lives during COVID through vaccination: Mandaviya at Stanford ‘The India Dialog’ session

New Delhi [India], February 24 (ANI): Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday hailed India’s response to the COVID pandemic and said that the country was able to save over 3.4 million lives by undertaking the nationwide vaccination campaign at an unprecedented scale.

The Health Minister lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the pandemic and said that he initiated a "preemptive response" much before COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, by the WHO.

The remarks of the Minister came while delivering a keynote address virtually at Stanford ‘The India Dialog’ session on the Economic Impact of VaccinationRelated Matters on Friday.

"India was able to save more than 3.4 million lives by undertaking the nationwide vaccination campaign at an unprecedented scale. Under the PMGKAY, the government focused on ensuring that no one slept hungry and free food grains were distributed to 800 million people," he said.

"The report "Healing the economy: Estimating the Economic Impact of India’s Vaccination and related measure" is Pertinent in culminating the massive efforts taken by India during Covid and how those efforts have led to an economic impact across the domains," Mandaviya added.

He said that during the pandemic, India adopted a "Whole of Government" and "Whole of Society" approach, in a proactive, preemptive and graded manner thus adopting a holistic response strategy, for effective management of Covid-19.

The Minister noted that the government created an administrative structure by setting up 11 Empowered Groups to focus dedicatedly on various aspects of pandemic management like Drugs, Vaccination, Logistics, etc. as early as 29 March 2020.

"PM Modi with his early call for Voluntary Lockdown paved the way to include the community in this response which is our mainstay in fighting this invisible virus," he said.

Talking about the rapid development of COVID infrastructure in the country, he said that the government ramped up testing infrastructure at an unprecedented scale for early detection of the virus with more than 917.8 million total tests conducted so far.

"We also set up a network of 52 labs for Genomic surveillance which has helped us to monitor the emerging variants of the virus. We prioritized scientific evidence-based vaccine development, vaccine production, just-in-time logistics including ensuring vaccine availability across the country," he said.

The Minister also lauded the country’s vaccination drive calling it the world’s biggest, and said that over 2.2 billion doses have been administered so far.

"With a mission mode approach for vaccination, India launched the world’s biggest vaccination drive on 16th January 2021, and till now we have administered more than 2.2 billion doses with 97 per cent 1st dose coverage and 90 per cent 2nd dose coverage of eligible beneficiaries," he said.

"The vaccination drive was supported by the relentless efforts of our vaccinators who traversed mountains, deserts,difficult geographical terrain to reach individuals in far-flung areas," Mandaviya added.

He also mentioned the indigenously developed CoWIN platform which is used to book the slot for the COVID vaccination and draw certificates after the administration of the vaccine jab.

"We also utilized the CoWIN vaccine management platform as its backbone which monitored the doses administered across the countryprovided QR-code-based" vaccination certificates," he said.

"Adopting a 360-degree response, numeroustimely financial packages were introduced which were crucial in mitigating the economic fallout," the Minister added further detailing the government’s efforts.

He said that the government utilized multiple schemes with a collective outlay of USD 42.3 billion for the agriculture sector with an aim of minimizing the impact on the social sector.

"We also introduced relief packages worth USD 4.6 billion to enable healthcare infrastructure augmentationstates were financially empowered through allowing utilization of more than 50 per cent of funds from the State Disaster Relief Fund," he said.

"While the prime focus of the campaign was always on saving lives, it also yielded a positive economic impact by preventing the loss of USD 18.3 billion. This resulted in a net benefit of USD 15.42 billion for the nation after taking into consideration the cost of the vaccination campaign," the Minister added. (ANI)