Indian population is still far from achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 as shown by Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) second Sero Survey, the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday adding that ICMR expert panel examining reinfection cases.

While interacting with social media users during Sunday Samvaad-3, Harsh Vardhan said: "The findings of the second sero survey are going to be released soon. But second sero survey indications are that we are far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which necessitates that all of us should continue following COVID appropriate behaviour. The first sero-survey of May 2020 revealed that the nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection was only 0.73 per cent."

"ICMR is also actively investigating and researching reports of reinfection and although the number of reinfection cases is negligible at this moment, the government is fully seized of the importance of the matter," added the health minister.

Harsh Vardhan discouraged the wide usage of investigational therapies such as remdesivir and plasma therapies. "Government has issued regular advisories regarding the rational use of investigational therapies. The private hospitals have also been advised against routine use of these investigational therapies. The doctors in the States/UTs are being made aware of this through webinars and during the tele-consultation session of AIIMS," he said.

The Union Health Minister dispelled fears regarding the phased opening of schools and advised on proper protocol to be followed while visiting salons and hair-spa. The Minister asked everyone to always raise awareness regarding COVID appropriate behaviors. He re-emphasized on the need for wearing masks even in places of worship.

On the emerging evidence that the disease not only impacts lungs but other organ systems too, especially cardiovascular and renal,  He informed that the committee of health ministry is looking into these facets of COVID-19 and ICMR is also studying this subject.

He stated that States/UTs have been advised to lower the prices of COVID tests. "In the early days of the pandemic, as the kits were imported, the price tended to be high. But now, there is a domestic production of kits and supplies of testing kits have also stabilized. The health ministry has written to States and Union Territories to engage private laboratories at mutually agreeable lower rates."
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