Price of testing has decreased, testing kits available in GeM portal: Health Secretary

Mumbai: More than 3 crore tests conducted so far, while 8,99,864 tests, which is the highest number of tests in a single day, have been conducted in last 24 hours. At the same time, the count of recovered patients has also gone up to more than 19.70 lakhs (2.93 times of active cases), while the active cases are only 25% of total cases. The average daily count of recovered cases is now more than 55,000 and the Case Fatality Rate is at 1.92%. These are the major highlights of this week, as has been stated by Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Health Secretary, in course of a media briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, held at the National Media Centre in New Delhi 

The Health Secretary explained, in spite of the increase in testing, the daily average rate of positivity remains low. It has decreased from 10.03 % in the first week of July to 7.72% over the last 7 days. The daily positivity rate varies between 7-8% everyday nowadays, while 73.18% patients have recovered and discharged till date.

All this is happening because of increased testing, consisting of both RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests; as a result of which patients are being identified sooner and treatment starting at an early phase. The seven-day rolling (weekly) average of case fatality ratio shows it to be diminishing from 2.89% in the first week of July to 1.94% at present. However, the aim remains to bring down the case fatality ratio to below 1 percent, added Shri Bhushan.

Dr. V.K.Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog stated, the weekly highlights give us positive and reassuring signals. Recovery rate is progressing well, mortality rate is stable and going down. But the most remarkable achievement is that cumulative daily testing in the country has reached 9 lakhs. Reiterating that testing is the key for disease containment, reducing mortality and improving outcome. The credit for taking testing to the grassroots levels goes to the central government, state and UT governments, ICMR, scientific laboratories and also industries, said Dr. Paul.

Dr. V.K.Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog

Speaking about vaccines, Dr Paul said, while one vaccine is in the stage of phase-3 trials, the other two are also progressing well and are in the phase 1-2 of clinical trials. He stated, “We have reviewed all these vaccine candidates. These are progressing well and their developments are taking place in a reassuring manner”, said Dr. Paul. “The outline of vaccine administration and supply chain is ready. As and when required, detailed and micro-level planning for vaccine administration based on a scientific approach according to the characteristics of the vaccine will be adopted”, he added.

Stating that discussions are going on with the vaccine manufacturers, Dr. Paul further stated, the Government held discussions with vaccine manufacturers to know about the facilitation they are expecting from the Government. In reply to a media query, he also stated, “We requested the vaccine manufacturers to indicate what possible prices could be. Pricing is very complex as some of these vaccines are at an early stage. We have some insights into what the price range could be, but this is an information that will be refined as we move along”.

In reply to another media query, the Health Secretary informed, the export of PPE overalls is subject to quantitative restrictions, whereas the export of ventilators is not subjected to any such restrictions. In July, 2020, 23 lakh PPEs were exported to UK, USA, UAE, Senegal and Slovenia on being given permission by DGFT, while till date in August, 2020, DGFT has permitted export of 15.07 lakh PPEs to Slovenia and USA.   

In reply to another query, Shri Bhushan stated, the services of those who have recovered from COVID-19 are being taken as volunteers in many states. They work for raising awareness about COVID-19 and urging people in urban as well as rural areas to go for testing on having symptoms and also encouraging people to seek treatment in COVID Care Centers or Hospitals on being tested positive.