By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on Monday discussed the Centre’s preparations for a possible third wave of Covid-19, progress on vaccination and the impact of lockdown on the economy and migrant labourers.

The committee headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma heard views of senior officials from the health, home and labour ministries on the socio-economic impact of Covid-19. MPs from from the ruling party and the opposition asked the officials about reports of a possible third wave, the new variants and preparedness of medical infrastructure to handle the situation.

MPs told the officials that the government must speak in one voice regarding a possible third wave, to prevent spreading panic among the masses. Officials were told that the infrastructure put up during the second wave, which saw a massive jump in cases and deaths, should not be dismantled like it was done after the first wave. The Centre should be prepared with availability of medicines, oxygen supply and other infrastructure to tackle the next wave and should not be caught off guard.

On vaccine availability, the panel was told that about two-third of the population will be fully vaccinated by end of 2021 and over 135 crore doses will be available between August and December. The doses would be of Covishield, Covaxin, Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccine and Sputnik, among others.

According to the officials, coronavirus variants of concern (B.1.617) led to increased transmissibility, change in virulence and also had an effect on diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. “The officials told the Parliamentarians that the proportion of Covid-19 cases with variants of concern has risen from 10.31 per cent in May to 51 per cent in June 20,” the panel told the officials. The impact of lockdown on migrant labourers has been less severe.

Less severe on migrant workers

Labour ministry officials told the panel that the impact of second wave has been less severe on migrant workers. Compared to 1.14 crore, who returned to home states during the first wave, only 5.1 lakh returned this year.

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