India saved over 3.4 million lives during COVID through vaccination: Mandaviya

24 February, 2023 | Pragati Singh

covid National

The Health Minister praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership during the pandemic.

Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister, praised India’s response to the COVID pandemic, saying the country was able to save over 3.4 million lives by launching a nationwide vaccination campaign on an unprecedented scale.

The Health Minister praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the pandemic, claiming that he launched a “preemptive response” long before the WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020. On Friday, the Minister made the remarks while virtually delivering a keynote address at Stanford’s ‘The India Dialog’ session on the Economic Impact of Vaccination and Related Matters.

“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 stated that during the pandemic, India used a “Whole of Government” and “Whole of Society” approach that was proactive, preemptive, and graded, resulting in a holistic response strategy for effective Covid-19 management.

As early as March 29, 2020, the government established an administrative structure by establishing 11 Empowered Groups to focus exclusively on various aspects of pandemic management such as drugs, vaccination, logistics, and so on.

“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.

Speaking of the country’s rapid development of COVID infrastructure, he stated that the government increased testing infrastructure on an unprecedented scale for early detection of the virus, with over 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 praised the country’s vaccination campaign, calling it the world’s largest, and claiming that over 2.2 billion doses have been administered to date.

“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 locally developed CoWIN platform, which is used to book the COVID vaccination slot and draw certificates after the vaccine jab is administered.

“We also utilized the CoWIN vaccine management platform as its backbone which monitored the doses administered across the country & provided QR-code-based” vaccination certificates,” he said.

“Adopting a 360-degree response, numerous & timely financial packages were introduced which were crucial in mitigating the economic fallout,” the Minister added further detailing the government’s efforts.

He stated that the government used multiple schemes totaling USD 42.3 billion for the agriculture sector in order to minimise the impact on the social sector.

“We also introduced relief packages worth USD 4.6 billion to enable healthcare infrastructure augmentation & states 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.