Vaccine supply hasn’t improved much in July, said deputy CM Ajit Pawar
MUMBAI/PUNE: Heath minister Rajesh Tope, speaking to a TV channel in Mumbai, said there are increasing demands for allowing the fully vaccinated on local trains and the government is considering it.
“There should be some relaxation and I hope that the CM and the Covid task force will take a proper decision,” the minister said, pointing out there are issues like whether the railways have adequate manpower to cross-check whether passengers are vaccinated. He pointed out that air travellers to the state with both doses of vaccine are now exempted from presenting a negative RT-PCR report.
Last week, deputy CM Ajit Pawar had said during a review meeting that he would recommend the state government to allow malls to open with “fully vaccinated staff” for “fully vaccinated customers”.
The public health department is considering proposals that allow fully vaccinated people to return to work across malls, restaurants, public transport networks and factories. Head of the state task force, Dr Sanjay Oak, said full vaccination will help decision-making by local administration and slowly boost important sectors.
Dr Rahul Pandit, another task force member, said even as the state readies health systems, fully vaccinated individuals should be allowed to operate in “bio-bubbles”, with staggered timings, to give the economy the necessary momentum.
But the pace of vaccination is faltering. Pawar said the state was told that supply would be streamlined from July, but the situation hasn’t improved much. “We are in constant touch with the Union government for supply of more doses,” he said.
Health experts said there’s now evidence, including data from the latest national sero survey, that suggests this could be the right time to take strong steps towards normalcy, while keeping a grip on preparedness.
Epidemiologist Dr Sanjay Rai, a professor of community medicine at AIIMS, New Delhi, said evidence from around the world has demonstrated that natural Covid infection provides better and longer protection. “Besides, the reinfection rate is very low if we analyse breakthrough cases after vaccination. Therefore, we can safely consider that two-thirds of the population is protected as of now. So it’s the right time to move towards normalcy, with close monitoring of the situation.”
State officials said steps are being taken towards a safe reopening. Relief and rehabilitation secretary Aseem Gupta said they have forwarded proposals for various economic sectors to the health department.
(With Nisha Nambiar and Umesh Isalkar in Pune)