Not waiting for act of God, Covid vaccine expected in early 2021: Govt

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan assured the Lok Sabha that the Central government is not just waiting for "act of God" in fight against Covid-19 but also working round-the-clock in the direction to get solution and a vaccine will be available in the beginning of the next year anytime.

The Minister's assurance came on Monday when he was speaking in the lower House in a late night discussion of the passage of the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks amendment to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and will replace the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated by the President on April 22.

Harsh Vardhan's response came in a reply to a Member of Parliament who alleged that the government is waiting for the act of God in fight against the disease which on Monday inched closer to 55 lakh-mark in India with a total of 54,87,580 cases in 235 days since the first case was reported on January 30.

In his over half-an hour address, Harsh Vardhan lauded the effort of various corona warriors, as he said, "We are fighting this war with the help of lakhs of corona warriors".

Pressing the Bill for its passage in order to provide protection to healthcare service personnel, their living premises as well as their workplaces against any violence during the course of a pandemic, the Minister mentioned how the health workers were attacked in many incidents while their service to the infected Covid patients.

As the Parliament was not in session, the Minister said the government came with an ordinance to protect such attacks on corona warriors, and mentioned that the act is to empower the state governments.

"If any person attacks a corona warrior he will be penalised as per the legal provisions. A special officer will investigate the case and submit a report within a month," the Minister said.

Fight against corona is a battle of 135 crore people, said Harsh Vardhan, adiding all governments fought with the disease unitedly. He also urged Members of Parliament (MPs) not to have any kind of discrepancies on the issue and support in passing the Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Saturday.

The Bill seeks to bring a law that punishes those who attack health workers or doctors who are fighting the coronavirus outbreak or during any situation similar to the current Covid-19 pandemic. The draft legislation provides for up to five years in jail for those who attack doctors and health care personnel.

Penalty ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000 can be slapped on any individual who is involved in commission or abetment of such acts of violence. It can also be punishable in the form of an imprisonment for a term of three months to five years.

--IANS

rak/rt


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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