Given the size of India’s population, herd immunity “cannot be a strategic choice or option”, the health ministry said on Thursday as it urged people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour till a vaccine is developed.
When asked if India was approaching herd immunity against the infection, Officer on Special Duty in the ministry Rajesh Bhushan said herd immunity happens only when a population becomes immune either through vaccination or immunity is developed through a previous infection. “In a country with the size of the population like India, herd immunity cannot be a strategic choice or option. It can only be an outcome, and that too at a very high cost as it means lakhs of people would have to be infected, get hospitalised and many would die in the process,” he said.
He said herd immunity can be achieved through immunisation but that is in the future. “Are we approaching herd immunity? The ministry believes it still far away and in the future,” Bhushan said.
The officer said phase 1 and 2 human clinical trials of two indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine candidates had started. The government has so far received 131 claims under the Rs 50 lakh Covid-19 insurance scheme for health care providers and payments have already been made in 20 cases, he said.
“Under the scheme, we have received 131 claims. The claims are a bit slow in coming as the families are initially in a state of shock and therefore it takes time to sign and fill up the necessary paperwork. Due to enhanced testing infrastructure, on an average 4,68,263 Covid-19 tests have been conducted daily from July 26 to 30. The recovery rate among patients too has increased from 7.85 per cent in April to 64.44 per cent on Thursday, he said.