The Joint Task Force of public health experts on Monday, August 31, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that the vaccine for the contagious COVID-19 "would not be available in near future." The experts added that the focus should be on preventing deaths and not containing the virus.
The statement issued by the experts of the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and the Indian Association of Epidemiologists said, "While being optimistic, the prevention and control strategy should also prepare for the worst. Vaccines do not have any role in current ongoing coronavirus pandemic control in India."
"It must be assumed that an effective vaccine would not be available in the near future. We must avoid a false sense of hope that this panacea is just around the corner," it added.
The petitioners of the joint statement include the former and present professors of All India Institute for Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research along with former advisors to the Ministry of Health.
The experts stated that the pandemic is a global health issue and should be handled with "empathy and meaningful community engagement."
"We strongly and unequivocally advocate for a public health approach for the novel coronavirus pandemic control, with the maximum possible good being done for the largest possible numbers," they added.
"Vaccines with proven efficacy and safety, as and when available, should be administered according to the WHO's 'strategic allocation' approach or a multi-tiered risk-based approach," the statement further said.
The experts also suggested stopping the ongoing practice of blocking residences of individuals who have tested positive. They further proposed the plan of resuming educational institutions in a graded manner.
"Lockdown as a strategy for control should be discontinued," the statement said.
"Cluster restrictions should be considered only in areas with no community transmission. Even cluster restrictions should be imposed after weighing the impact of the same on the livelihood of the target population," it added.
The experts further said that the system of placing the inter-state travelers under quarantine should be stopped and instead, effective strategies like home isolation measures should be followed. They also listed out some action plans that can be considered by the government to curb the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases continue to rise with India becoming the first country in the world to report 80,000 active cases in a single day. The country also witnessed a surge in fatality rates with 28,859 deaths recorded in August which is a 50 per cent rise from the past month's record.
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