COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India continues on its path of high testing: more than 8 lakh tests/day 

Keeping the focus on “TEST, TRACK AND TREAT” strategy, India has tested more than 8 lakh COVID-19 samples for the 2nd consecutive day in a row. With a strong resolve to rapidly increase the number of tests done per day to touch 10 lakh/day testing capacity, 8, 01,518 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. The cumulative testing as on date has reached 3, 17, 42,782. The Tests per Million too have seen a sharp rise to 23,002. It is only by aggressive testing that positive cases can be identified; their contacts tracked and isolated as well as prompt treatment can be ensured through timely medical care. The sustained level of high testing has played a key role in India’s increasing rate of recovery, widening gap between the recovered and active cases, and also progressively declining fatality rate. India followed the track of a graded and evolving strategy, steadily strengthening its nationwide network of labs in the public and private sectors.

India’s Recovery Rate scales a peak too, races past 73%

Fast on the heels of crossing 3 crore cumulative tests, India has recorded another high. Total number of recoveries has crossed 2 million today (20, 37,870).Coupled with this is another achievement of highest ever single day recoveries of 60,091 in the last 24 hours. With this high number of COVID-19 patients recovering and being discharged from the hospitals and home isolation (in case of mild and moderate cases), the Recovery Rate has scaled the twin peak of crossing 73% (73.64%). This has also led to the declining Case Fatality Rate, which stands at a new low of 1.91% today. The record high recoveries have ensured that the actual caseload of the country viz. the active cases has reduced and currently comprises less than 1/4th (only 24.45%) of the total positive cases. India has posted 13, 61,356 more recoveries than the active cases (6, 76,514).  

AIIMS-IIT alumni duo invents novel technology to kill corona virus with just water

It was the year 2015 when the duo – Dr. Shashi Ranjan and Debayan Saha were flying back to India to start their innovation journey at AIIMS, Delhi from Stanford University, and the USA after completing their coveted Bio design innovation fellowship with a determination to contribute to the healthcare system in their motherland, India. Five years down the line their dream has started to become a reality as their invented technology has now been tested and certified by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) lab, to kill the COVID-19 virus (Corona virus) successfully. They invented novel technology to kill corona virus with just water. 

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

A big win for Digital India: Health Ministry’s ‘eSanjeevani’ telemedicine service records 2 lakh tele-consultations

The ‘eSanjeevani’ digital platform of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has completed 2 lakh tele-consultations. This milestone was achieved in a short time period of ten days only since the 9th of August when Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare presided over a meet to commemorate the completion of 1.5 lakh tele-consultations. eSanjeevani platform has enabled two types of telemedicine services viz. Doctor-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani) and Patient-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani OPD) Tele-consultations. The former is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC). It aims to implement tele-consultation in all the 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres in conjunction with identified Medical College hospitals in a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model. The Health Ministry rolled out the second tele-consultation service ‘eSanjeevaniOPD’ enabling patient-to-doctor telemedicine owing to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. This has proved a boon in containing the spread of COVID while simultaneously enabling provisions for non-COVID essential healthcare. eSanjeevani has been implemented so far by 23 States and other States are in the process of rolling it out. 

Cancer cases in India may rise to 15.7 lakh from 13.9 lakh in next five years: ICMR 

The number of cancer cases in India for the present year is estimated to be 13.9 lakh and it may increase to 15.7 lakh by 2025, according to a report released by the ICMR and the Bangalore-based National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research. The ICMR released the National Cancer Registry Programme Report, 2020, which estimates that in 2020, the number of cancer cases in the country will be at 13.9 lakhs and likely to increase to 15.7 lakhs by 2025, based on current trends. The estimate is based on information collected from 28 Population Based Cancer Registries and additionally data from 58 hospital-based cancer registries was compiled. While tobacco-related cancer is likely to contribute 27.1 per cent which is 3.7 lakh cases of the total cancer burden in 2020, cancer of lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common cancers among men, it highlighted. "Among women, breast cancer is estimated to contribute 2 lakh (14.8 per cent) and cervix cancer is estimated to contribute 0.75 lakh (5.4 per cent), whereas for both men and women, cancers of the gastrointestinal tract is estimated to contribute 2.7 lakhs (19.7 per cent) of the total cancer burden," said the statement.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan digitally addresses FSSAI’s Eat Right Challenge Orientation Workshop

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare presided over an online orientation workshop organized by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as part of its Eat Right Challenge. He also launched FSSAI’s ‘Eat Right India’ Handbook and the website to help various stakeholders scale up ‘Eat Right India’ initiatives across the country. Dr. Harsh Vardhan spoke of the key role played by healthy food and nutrition in combating morbidity. Stating that diet helps in building one’s resilience and immunity towards various kinds of diseases, he emphasized “61.8% deaths from non-communicable like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular complications etc., are directly or indirectly related to faulty diet. Even communicable diseases like tuberculosis disproportionately affect people who are undernourished. People of the same household have been showing different responses to COVID based on their immunity acquired through nutrition.”

SCTIMST & IIT Madras start-up set up portable hospital infrastructure for COVID -19

Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India in collaboration with ‘Modulus Housing’ a start-up incubated by IIT Madras has come up with a solution using decentralized approach to detect, manage and treat COVID-19 patients in local communities through portable microstructures. The portable microstructure named as “MediCAB”, which is modular, portable, durable, easy to set up and can be customized as per the requirements of the customer. It is foldable and is composed of four zones – a doctor's room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward, and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure. It can be easily transported and installed anywhere in geographic locations and can be erected in just two hours with the help of four persons.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

World Health Organization's struggle for a global Covid-19 vaccine plan

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged countries to join a global pact aimed at ensuring less wealthy countries have access to Covid-19 vaccines, warning about the risks from so-called "vaccine nationalism." Here is a look at the WHO's plan and the approaches by wealthier nations. The COVAX global vaccines facility is a program designed to pool funds from wealthier countries and nonprofits to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and distribute it equitably around the world. Its aim is to deliver 2 billion doses of effective, approved Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. The details of the program are still being hashed out ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline for nations to join. It is led by the WHO, along with the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

WHO: Pandemic now driven by young adults

The WHO said on Tuesday it was concerned that the corona virus spread was being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. “The epidemic is changing,” WHO Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, told a virtual briefing. “People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected. This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable.” A surge in new cases has prompted some nations to re-impose curbs as companies race to find a vaccine for a virus that has killed over 7, 70,000 people. Countries putting their interests ahead of others in trying to ensure supplies of a possible vaccine are making the pandemic worse, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Tuesday. “No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said, calling for an end to “vaccine nationalism”.

US hands over to India 100 ventilators in fight against Covid-19 pandemic

The US on Wednesday handed over to India 100 ventilators, as part of President Donald Trump's offer of assistance to New Delhi in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The ventilators are manufactured in the US and are compact, easy to deploy and provide India with flexibility in treating patients affected by the virus, the US embassy said in a statement. The US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), in coordination with the Indian government and the Indian Red Cross Society, donated the second shipment of 100 new, state-of-the-art ventilators to assist India in its fight against COVID-19, the statement said.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

9,742 new Covid-19 cases and 86 deaths reported in Andhra Pradesh in the last 24 hours

Maintaining the steep ascent, Andhra Pradesh's COVID-19 tally touched 3.16 lakh on Wednesday as 9,742 more cases were added in the last 24 hours. The corona virus toll mounted to 2,906 as 86 fresh casualties were reported. The latest bulletin said 8,061 COVID-19 victims got cured and discharged from hospitals across the state in the last 24 hours. After showing a declining trend for three days last week, the number of active cases once again saw a spike and now stood at 86,725 after 2, 26,372 patients had recovered.

Covid-19 patient tries to escape from hospital in UP's Moradabad, falls to death from third floor

A 28-year-old COVID-19 patient fell to her death from the third floor of a hospital here on Wednesday when she was allegedly trying to escape, police said. The woman, a resident of Gaura village under Bilar police station area, was undergoing treatment at Teerthankar University Hospital, they said. Circle Officer Ram Sagar said CCTV footage showed the woman trying to escape from the hospital through a window on the third floor. She fell from the window slab around 7:30 AM.

Karnataka among highest Covid-testing states in India

Karnataka has conducted 20 lakh corona virus tests in less than five months to emerge as one of the highest corona virus-testing states in India, an official said on Wednesday. "Karnataka has conducted more than 20 lakh Covid tests from March 23 to August 16 (Sunday) and stands as one of the top states conducting maximum number of tests," the health official added. Initially, to complete the first one lakh tests, the southern state took nearly 99 days, however, now it takes just two days to test one lakh people, considering more than 50,000 tests were being done in 101 laboratories daily across the state.

Industry Updates 

Oxford vaccine may be the first shot for India

India is eyeing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate as the likely first shot against Covid-19 to be available for Indians by end of 2020, while locally developed candidates are also being watched closely as it is felt that they may also enter the market with a gap of few weeks if cleared in trials, officials said. However, the Oxford candidate — for which Pune-based Serum Institute is a manufacturing partner of British pharma giant AstraZeneca — is ahead of the other two local vaccine candidates that have also entered the human trials stage. “If the vaccine gets the nod, and given that it is being produced in India, it makes sense to use it,” media reports. While Serum has started advanced phases of human trial (Phase 2 and 3) in India with around 1,600 people aged above 18 years in across 17 selected sites across the country, the other two — Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, jointly developed with ICMR, and Zydus Cadila’s Zycov D are both in early phases 1 and 2.

Health insurance companies should focus more on disease specific policies: Member (Non-Life), IRDAI

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) today stressed upon the need for increasing the health insurance market and urged the health insurance companies to focus on launching disease specific policies to increase the customer base. Addressing a webinar ‘Virtual Health Insurance Conference 2020-Innovation for Bridging the Gap’, organized by FICCI, Ms TL Alamelu, Member, Non-Life IRDAI  said, “This is what the customer is looking for.” Health insurance companies should focus on developing disease specific policies to cover a larger population rather than focusing only on healthy individuals, she added. Alamelu also emphasized the need for a better grievance redressal system to gain customers trust. Highlighting the impact of COVID-19 spreading to tier 2,3 cities and rural areas, Alamelu said that there is an increase in the health protection gap in the health insurance sector. “96 percent of the population don’t have a health cover. During this time also a small out of pocket expense in hospitals can financially impact the customer. There is a need to reduce this gap,” she said. 

Hinduja Foundation donates Rs 1 Crore for COVID care facility in Mumbai

Hinduja Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the 100-year-old Hinduja Group, has provided Rs 1 Crore worth of support to set up a COVID-19 care facility in Khar, Mumbai at the behest of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). This facility, named ‘Deepvan’, will provide emergency healthcare services to COVID-19 patients. Two months after Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan offered the use of his office premises in Khar for COVID relief, BMC requested Hinduja HealthCare, Khar for their technical support in converting the area into an intensive care unit for critical COVID-19 patients. The Foundation stepped in with a donation amounting to Rs 1 Crore, in the form of capital expenditure for medical equipment, PPE kits and other support to get the facility operational for the BMC. More than 60 patients availed of free treatment in the past month, as part of the Foundation’s continuing social commitment to COVID relief. 

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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