‘No WHO consensus yet on Covid vaccine passport issue’

Our Bureau. New Delhi | Updated on May 22, 2021

With black fungus cases on the rise, Centre keen to ramp up drug availability


India will take a call on opening the skies for international travel for those fully vaccinated against Covid-19 only after a consensus emerges on the vaccine passport issue at the World Health Organization (WHO), Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The vaccine passport issue was still being discussed at the WHO level and there is no consensus as yet. Meanwhile, as per the WHO and country-level guidelines, international travel is being permitted only for those who have tested negative for Covid-19.

“Discussions are on if vaccinated people will be allowed (for international travel). As of now, as per guidelines issued by WHO and by countries, people with negative Covid test report are being allowed (for international travel),” he said at a media briefing.

He was responding to a query on whether media reports stating that those vaccinated with Covaxin may not be eligible for foreign travel, were true, as the WHO had not included Bharat Biotech’s vaccine in its list of medicines for emergency use listing.

Black fungus

Agarwal said a national picture on the number of patients infected by the black fungus (mucormycosis) would soon be available with States being recently asked to file reports on a portal. He also highlighted that the Centre has now asked States to notify ‘black fungus’ under Epidemic Diseases Act.

On the rising instances of mucormycosis, VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog, said it is being reported mainly in Covid patients with uncontrolled sugar levels, along with other comorbidities. He clarified that the fungus is not new and is now emerging and on the rise because of the excessive usage of steroids used for treating the coronavirus infection.

Earlier in the day, Chemical and Fertilizers Minister Sadanand Gowda tweeted that the Centre had allocated 23,680 additional vials of Amphotericin- B used to treat black fungus to all States/UTs. There are currently around 8,848 cases of mucormycosis, he added.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Centre to ensure adequate protection and assured supply of essential medicines to treat mucormycosis. She urged the Centre to provide cost-free patient care for those in need of treatment.

Meanwhile, a committee of microbiologists set up by the Karnataka government has said the possible sources of contamination in black fungus cases were the use of tap water for humidifiers, growth of fungus in cannulas (a tube that can be inserted into a human body) and ICU equipment.

A preliminary report of the committee said distilled water should be used in humidifiers to prevent such occurrences, Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Minister K Sudhakar told reporters.


(With inputs from Bengaluru bureau)

Published on May 22, 2021

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