Court also instructs Union Ministry of Health to include COVID drugs in National List of Essential Medicines
Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed the State government to ensure that all persons above the age of 18 years got inoculated with two doses of COVID vaccine within three months.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar passed this direction while hearing a batch of petitions connected to COVID-19. The bench also directed the government to administer vaccination to all members of the teaching and non-teaching staff of schools within two months.
The bench took serious exception to the Central government’s response to comply with the HC direction to include life saving drugs meant for treating COVID-19 in the National List of Essential Medicines. Instructing the Union Ministry of Health to include such life-saving drugs in the national list of essential medicines by this October-end, the bench said officials of the Ministry would have to face consequences if the order was not complied with.
“The Union Health Ministry is working in slow motion…it should better speed up things,” the Acting CJ said. The bench wondered how would the producers step up the production of life-saving drugs and how would stocks of medicines reach market unless the life-saving drugs were included in the list of essential medicines.
“Two waves of COVID-19 already hit us…there were huge fatalities…will the Central government include life-saving medicines in essential medicines list after the third wave engulfs us?” the bench observed. It sought to know specifically from the Assistant Solicitor General of India Namavarapu Rajeshwar Rao as to why there was inordinate delay on such an important matter.
Assurance by DPH
Public Health and Family Welfare Director G. Srinivasa Rao said that the government would scrupulously adhere to the timeframe fixed by the HC for vaccination of all. Nearly 60% of the population in the State was administered with the first dose of coronavirus vaccine. Thirty-eight per cent of the population got second dose of vaccination. In the next three to four weeks, the remaining people would get the second dose of vaccination, he assured the court. He informed the HC that 97% vaccination was completed in GHMC areas.
“It is said that unless both doses of the vaccine were administered, the human body does not get the immunity it requires to face coronavirus,” the bench observed. From the first of this month, all government schools in the State commenced classes. However, the government could administer vaccine to only 1,49,671 members of the teaching and the non-teaching staff out of the total of 4.93 lakh members, the bench said.
There is a likelihood of children contracting the virus due to interaction with the teaching and non-teaching staff. When they return home, they would pass on the virus to other elder members of the family triggering a possible community spread, the bench observed. The bench also wanted the government to step up the RT-PCR tests vis-a-vis Rapid Antigen tests. The latter type of tests were 10 times high than the RT-PCR tests.
It was essential to step up RT-PCR tests to secure accurate details and evolve a strategy to tackle coronavirus during the ensuing festival season, the bench said.
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