COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

News Updates


Removal of obstructions paves the way for ramped up COVID-19 testing; Now, Private Practitioner can also prescribe a COVID-19 test

Through a significant step announced by the Central Government, COVID-19 testing can now be done on the prescription of any registered practitioner, and not exclusively a Government doctor. The Centre has strongly advised States/UTs to take immediate steps to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe COVID test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing as per ICMR guidelines. Reiterating that ‘Test-Track-Treat’ is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the outbreak, the Centre has advised States/ UTs to take all possible steps to ensure full capacity utilization of all COVID-19 testing laboratories in the State/ UT. This shall ensure full capacity utilization of all labs, especially the private ones, thus hugely benefitting the people.


Government of India removes Impediments in COVID-19 Testing; Urges States to Ramp up Testing

Preeti Sudan, Health Secretary and Dr BalramBhargava, DG (ICMR) urged the States/UTs yesterday to take immediate steps to facilitate and ramp up testing. They have reiterated that ‘test-track-treat’ is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the pandemic. Pointing out that in some States/ UTs, the capacity utilization of the testing labs, particularly the ones in private sector, is grossly sub-optimal, They are also advised to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe COVID test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing as per ICMR guidelines. While RT-PCR is the gold standard for diagnosis of COVlD-19, ICMR has recently approved the use of a point-of-care 

Rapid Antigen Test for early detection of COVID-19.


Recovery rate fast moving to touch 60%; Difference between recovered and active cases increases to 1, 32,912

As on date, there are 1, 32,912 recovered cases more than the active COVID-19 cases. Timely clinical management of COVID-19 cases has resulted in more than 10,000 daily recoveries. During the last 24 hours, a total of 11,881 COVID-19 patients have been cured, taking the cumulative figure to 3, 59,859. This further takes the recovery rate to 59.52%.Presently, there are 2, 26,947 active cases and all are under medical supervision. During the last 24 hours 2, 29,588 samples have been tested. The cumulative number of samples tested, as on date, is 90, 56,173. The testing lab network in the country is further strengthened. With 768 labs in the government sector and 297 private labs, there are as many as 1065 labs in the country.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates


Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 Launched

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, and Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare &Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan today launched Drug Discovery Hackathon through online platform. This Drug Discovery Hackathon is a joint initiative of MHRD, AICTE and CSIR and supported by partners like CDAC, MyGov, Schrodinger and ChemAxon. Hackathon will primarily focus on computational aspects of drug discovery and will have three Tracks. Track-1 will deal with computational modeling for drug design or identifying ‘lead’ compounds from existing databases that may have the potential to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 while Track-2 will encourage participants to develop new tools and algorithms using data analytics and AI/ML approach for predicting drug-like compounds with minimal toxicity and maximal specificity and selectivity. A third track, named Track 3 is a Moon-shot approach which will only deal with novel and out-of-the-box ideas in this field.


ICMR tests over 90 lakh samples for Covid-19 till 1 July

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has tested over 90 lakh Covid-19 samples in various laboratories across the country till 1 July. 2, 29,588 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. "The total number of samples tested up to July 1 is 90, 56,173 of which 2, 29,588 samples were tested yesterday," the ICMR said. In an effort to ramp up testing capacity, the ICMR has approved a total of 1,000 COVID-19 testing labs in both public (730) and private sector (270). This includes RT-PCR labs (557); True Nat Labs (363) and CBNAAT Labs (80). Meanwhile, India's Covid-19 tally breached the 6 lakh mark today with 19,148 new corona virus cases in the last 24 hours, according to the data released by the Union Health Ministry early morning today.


Amit Shah meets CMs of UP, Haryana, Delhi; discusses Covid-19 situation

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday held a meeting with the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the national capital and its adjoining areas, located in the two neighbouring states. Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) have seen a spike in the number of corona virus cases, leading to the Home Minister stepping in to handle the situation and improve the health infrastructure. Shah reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Delhi-NCR with the three chief ministers, a home ministry official said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was also present in the meeting. The NCR comprises districts belonging to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The prominent ones being Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida) and Ghaziabad (both Uttar Pradesh) and Gurgaon, Faridabad (both in Haryana). Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi -- Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and Arvind Kejriwal respectively -- attended the meeting through video-conference

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates


Mental health, suicide prevention needs greater attention during pandemic: WHO

With the COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating and impacting people in multiple ways, WHO today called upon countries in South-East Asia Region to pay greater attention to mental health and suicide prevention. “Hitting lives and livelihoods, the pandemic is causing fear, anxiety, depression and stress among people. Social distancing, isolation and coping with perpetually evolving and changing information about the virus has both triggered and aggravated existing and pre-existing mental health conditions which need urgent attention,” said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region. Early identification of mental health conditions, recognition of suicidal behaviors and appropriate management through a multi-sectoral approach is important, even as we continue to focus on arresting further spread of the pandemic, Dr. Khetrapal Singh added.


WHO warns some nations still face ‘long, hard’ battle with Covid-19

Nations who fail to use every mechanism available to combat the still-raging novel corona virus will struggle to beat it, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.“Some countries ... have taken a fragmented approach. These countries face a long, hard road ahead,” Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva, without singling out any nations. More than 10.5 million people have been infected globally and more than half a million have died since the COVID-19 disease first emerged in China.


WHO says Middle East at ‘critical threshold’ in virus numbers

The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that the Middle East was at a decisive moment in the fight against the novel corona virus, with cases surging as countries ease lockdown measures.“We are at a critical threshold in our region,” the WHO’s Middle East head, Ahmed al-Mandhari, said in an online press conference. According to figures published by the global health body on Wednesday, the 22 countries from Morocco to Pakistan had recorded 1,077,706 novel corona virus cases and 24,973 deaths.

States Advisories / Policies / Updates


Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal inaugurates plasma bank at ILBS for benefit of Covid-19 patients

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced the first plasma bank in the country for the novel corona virus patients in the city and urged the Covid survivors to come forward and donate plasma to save lives. Addressing a virtual press conference, Kejriwal said, "Today I am announcing the plasma bank in Delhi. Plasma bank will solve the problems of Covid-19 patients." The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener said the plasma bank will become a success if the people who have got treated from the Covid-19 come forward and donate. Kejriwal also launched the helpline number to register names for plasma donation.


Covid-19 tally in Andhra Pradesh crosses 16,000-mark

The number of Covid-19 cases in Andhra Pradesh crossed 16,000 on Thursday with 845 people testing positive during the last 24 hours, health officials said. The state also reported five fatalities, pushing the death toll to 198. Srikakulam, Krishna, Guntur, Anantapur and Kurnool reported one death each. According to the media bulletin by the State Command Control Room, 14,285 samples were tested during the last 24 hours. Of them, 845 tested positive. It included four returnees from abroad and 29 from other states. The health department said 281 people were discharged from hospitals, taking the number of recoveries to 7,313. At present, 8,586 patients were undergoing treatment -- 6,673 in hospitals and 1,913 in COVID care centres.


Big hospitals running out of ventilator beds in Delhi

The crisis of ventilator beds in Delhi for Covid-19 patients turned more acute on Wednesday with major hospitals like AIIMS, Ram ManoharLohia, Apollo and Max at Patparganj and Saket running out of such beds in ICUs. Mechanical ventilation is required to save those Covid-19 patients who are not able to breathe on their own despite oxygen support. According to real-time data shared by the government’s Delhi Corona app, the capital has 744 ICU beds with ventilator support, excluding 50 such beds at AIIMS-Jhajjar. Of these, 569 — 76% — beds were occupied on Wednesday. Only seven hospitals in Delhi have five or more ICU beds with ventilator support available. These are LokNayak (37 ventilator beds), Guru TegBahadur (16), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (13), Lady Hardinge Medical College (12), Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty (9), and Hindu Rao and Vimhans (8 each). Forty-one hospitals have less than five ventilator beds and 33 hospitals have no such facility.

Industry Updates


Russian produced anti-covid drug ready for exports

Russian produced corona virus drug Avifavir is ready for exports and over 50 countries across continents have expressed interest in acquiring the drug. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, and Chem Rar Group produced the first 100,000 courses of the Russian corona virus drug Avifavir in June, significantly exceeding initially planned production levels of 60,000 courses. In June, the drug was delivered across Russia's 35 regions and to the Republic of Belarus. Agreement has also been reached for deliveries of Avifavir to the Republic of Kazakhstan in the near future. In total, more than 100,000 courses will be produced in July.


Experimental Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer, BioNtech shows promise

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate, tested by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and the German biotech firm BioNTech SE, is safe, well-tolerated, and can generate antibodies in people, according to a study. The research, which is published in the preprint server medRxiv and is yet to be peer-reviewed, describes the preliminary clinical data for the candidate vaccine -- nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA), BNT162b1. It said the amount of antibodies produced in participants after they received two shots of the vaccine candidate was greater than that reported in patients receiving convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. Researchers, including those from New York University in the US, who were involved in the study, said the candidate vaccine enables human cells to produce an optimised version of the receptor binding domain (RBD) antigen.


Source: PIB

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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