New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Union Health Ministry on Thursday dismissed a New York Times report, which claimed that 16 lakh people died due to the second wave of COVID-19, calling it "baseless and false". Addressing a press conference, the Health Ministry said that the report was based on "distorted estimates" and is not backed by any evidence.

Noting that India is on "downswing" of the second wave of the pandemic, the Health Ministry said that COVID-19 cases would continue to decline in the country even if the restrictions are "significantly relaxed".

"Overall recoveries are now exceeding the number of cases being reported on a daily basis. The recovery rate has increased from 85.6 per cent to 90 per cent now, it's a positive indication," Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Centre scraps local trails for vaccines to 'fast-track' imports

Speaking about the shortage of vaccines in the country, the Health Ministry said that it is in talks with Pfizer for the rollout of its vaccines, adding that the local trials policy for "well-established" manufacturers has been scrapped.

"We are engaged with Pfizer as they've indicated the availability of a certain volume of vaccines in the coming months, possibly in July. They've requested indemnity against liability to all the nations. We are examining this request. There is no decision as of now," NITI Aayog's Dr VK Paul said, as reported by ANI.

Earlier in on Wednesday, Pfizer had said that it is ready to supply five crore doses of its vaccines this year but sought relaxations including indemnity from liability.

Mix-match of vaccines

The Health Ministry also spoke about the possible adverse effects of taking the second dose of a different COVID-19 vaccine and said that more analysis needs to be done side effects of this scenario.

"Our protocol is clear that both doses given should be of the same vaccine. This matter should be investigated. Even if this has happened it should not be a cause of concern," Dr VK Paul was quoted as saying by ANI.

On Wednesday, the Uttar Pradesh government said that several villagers in Siddharthnagar district were given mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines at a government hospital. Noting that strict action will be taken against the guilty, the UP government said that the vaccine beneficiaries are under observation.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma