R Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health
R Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health

India has recorded more than 15.83 lakh COVID-19 cases so far. Globally, the country now ranks third among nations worst affected by the virus. However, it is not all bad news, as the country on Thursday marked a milestone of sorts, with more than 10 lakh people having recovered from the virus.

Testing is being amped up constantly, and the fatality rate too has dropped. The Health Ministry on Thursday said that the case fatality rate was at 2.21%. "It's among the lowest in the world. 24 States and Union Territories have lesser fatality rate than that of the country," the Ministry said.

"Over 1,81,90,000 tests have been conducted in the country including RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests. There has been week on week increase in average tests per day. India is conducting 324 test per 10 lakhs population per day," Secretary of the Ministry of Health, R Bhushan said.

He however said that the concept of herd immunity was not something India could rely on. Nothing that this could be a possibility in the future, he said that it was imperative that at least for the moment, people followed "COVID-19 appropriate behaviour".

"Herd immunity in a country of the size and population of India can't be a strategic option. It can only be achieved through immunisation. Health Ministry thinks it's possible in future but for now we've to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour," he said.

While there has been quite a bit of debate about localised transmission, Bhushan said that India had clusters of cases and pockets of localised transmission.

"With 138 crore population only 50 out of 740 districts contribute to 80% cases. In 80% of new cases, source of infection and close contacts can be traced within 72 hrs. How's it community transmission?" he asked.

Speaking about the possibility of a vaccine for COVID-19, Bhushan said that three vaccine candidates were now in the third phase of clinical trials globally. "These 3 are in US, UK and China. In India, 2 indigenously developed vaccine candidates are in phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. Trial of 1st vaccine involves 1150 subjects at 8 sites, 2nd on 1000 subjects at 5 sites," he revealed.

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