The Chief Scientist of WHO said that India has a low testing rate when compared to other countries who are successfully trying to curb the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Soumya Swaminathan said that so far 28 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are under clinical trial, out of which 5 are entering phase II.
“India as a whole, the testing rates are much lower compared to some of the countries, who have done well like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan,” she said. She added that even the United States is testing a large number of people. Further, she said that we need to have certain benchmarks regarding the rate of testing done per lakh or per million, and what is the positivity rate.
She pointed out that without having a large number of tests, fighting the virus is similar to fighting fire blindfolded. According to her if the COVID-19 test positivity rate is more than 5 % then the number of tests being conducted is not sufficient.
She said that governments should constantly check the availability of beds, ICUs, oxygen supplies, quarantine facilities in district hospitals.
“So there is a set of 8 to 10 indicators that the government needs to keep a close watch on. And you can ramp up or ramp down based on what you are seeing on the ground,” she said.
She said that now the virus has spread to every part of the world and has established community transmission.
The WHO official further said that lockdowns were only temporary measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Lockdown prevented people from getting closer and with the lockdown, the government bought time to provide the required system to tackle the virus, she added.
Regarding the vaccine trials, she said that the WHO has provided guidelines and if the efficacy rate of the vaccine is 70 %, then that vaccine is a good one.