Taking serious note and consideration of the newly found Covid-19 strain in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is holding an emergency meeting today. The Joint Monitoring Group (JGM) called the meeting to deliberate on the latest alarming developments in the UK, said a senior government official. “Government is alert, no need to panic” is what Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on new strain of coronavirus in the UK.

The Indian government has decided to suspend all flights originating from the UK till 31st December, as a safety measure. This suspension will be in effect from 22nd December and all the flights which are in transit will have a mandatory RT-PCR test on their arrival. This announcement has been made today by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) representatives are likely to attend the meeting of the Union Health Ministry along with health experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and representatives from AIIMS. Officials have also said that there has not been any major change or mutation in the Covid-19 strain in India. However, the Central government officials concerned are monitoring and analyzing the Coronavirus strains very closely in India.

India’s fight against COVID-19 is going to be ramped up soon as sources say that the government is likely to declare some “big news” on 25th December, related to the Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinators across the country have received instructions to be “all set” by 25 December and state trainers for the immunization drive have been asked to finish their training by the end of the week.

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India will soon begin vaccinating people for COVID-19 in around January, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said, adding that the government’s priority has been the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. “I personally feel may be in January in any stage or any week, there can be a time when we can be in a position to give first Covid vaccine shot to the people of India,” added Harsh Vardhan.

Leaves of officers and employees of the Health Department have been cancelled till January because their cooperation would be majorly required during the period. The employees whose leaves have been cancelled are the front-line workers and staff which include doctors, nurses, contract workers and daily wage workers.

Currently, the vaccines which have applied for emergency use authorization are being analyzed and checked closely by the drug realtors. Harsh Vardhan said, “India is not less than any country when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine and research. Our scientists and health experts have worked on the development of a vaccine by genome sequencing and isolation of the coronavirus and developed an indigenous vaccine.”

There are six COVID-19 vaccine candidates in different clinical trial stages in India including Covishield, Covaxin, ZyCoV-D, Sputnik V, NVX-CoV2373 and a recombinant protein antigen-based vaccine. Indian companies which have applied for emergency authorization across the globe are Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech. India has also already manufactured more than 50 million of the AstraZeneca vaccines. The Serum Institute of India (SII) has a tie-up with AstraZeneca, which are waiting for UK’s approval and other countries’ as well, therefore increasing the manufacturing and circulation in the world.

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