COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Dr. Harsh Vardhan discusses bilateral Health Co-operation including management of COVID-19 with Australian Health Minister

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare had a digital interaction with his Australian counterpart Gregory Andrew Hunt to discuss bilateral Health co-operation here today. India and Australia had signed a MoU on co-operation in the field of Health and Medicine earlier.  The MoU covers areas of mutual interest like the management of communicable diseases like Malaria and Tuberculosis, mental health and non-communicable diseases, antimicrobial resistance, regulation of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medical devices and digitization of health infrastructure. The MoU also covers response to public health emergencies like the present COVID pandemic.  At the outset, Dr. Harsh Vardhan expressed deep admiration for Gregory Hunt for his organization of charity events like a 5 km run for children suffering for autism and raising awareness on juvenile diabetes. India’s domestic demand is expected to engine the growth regardless of any turbulence in the global economy. India also offers vast opportunities in R&D and medical tourism. India’s traditional holistic medical systems like Ayurveda and Yoga can help Australia curb obesity and related diseases, he further added.

FM reviews implementation of Insurance Scheme for Health workers 

Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs SmtNirmalaSitharaman chaired a meeting to review the implementation of Insurance Scheme for Health workers fighting COVID-19 announced under Pradhan Mantri GaribKalyan Package (PMGKP) yesterday. During the meeting, the Finance Minister highlighted the importance for a speedy settlement and emphasized the need of the benefit reaching out to the nominees at the earliest. Officials from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare provided an overview of the mechanism being followed with State nodal authorities to expedite the claims, also highlighting the issues being faced while reaching out to the family of deceased as well as obtaining the legal heir certificate.

India 'pharmacy of the world', on fast-track mode to develop Covid-19 vaccine

India is considered as the "pharmacy of the world." About 60 per cent of the drugs uitilised in the United States of America are of Indian origin. So, these are generic drugs produced in India where the country has established itself over the years. This is possibly well known to many people in the world, said (Prof) Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Highlighting an important fact that is not known about Indian vaccines and drugs, Dr Bhargava said --i.e. 60 per cent of the vaccines (like Rubella, measles, polio) supplied in the world, whether it be Africa, Europe, South East Asia or anywhere are of Indian origin. So, India is perceived as an important player in vaccines for supply for the world, he said. 

Railways creates POST COVID COACH to ensure safer journey

Indian Railways has taken numerous steps and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus infection. Sustaining the ruthless fight against COVID-19, Indian Railways’ production unit, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has developed a Post Covid Coach to fight Covid 19. This Post Covid Coach has design improvements in the coach like hands free amenities, copper-coated handrails & latches, plasma air purification and titanium di-oxide coating for Covid free passenger journey. The salient features of the Post Covid Coach include 1. Hands free amenities 2. Copper-coated handrails & latches 3 Plasma air purification and 4 Titanium Di-oxide coating. 

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Over 1.1 crore samples tested for COVID-19: ICMR 

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that a total of 2, 19,103 samples have been tested for corona virus in the last 24 hours. With this, the total number of tests in India has reached 1, 18, 06,265. Meanwhile, ICMR is continuously scaling up its testing facilities for COVID-19 by giving approval to Government and private laboratories.  As of now, a total of 688 laboratories across India has been given the approval to conduct tests for corona virus including 480 government laboratories and 208 private laboratories’ chains. Meanwhile, India saw yet another record single-day jump of 28,701 COVID-19 cases, pushing its tally to 8, 78,254 on Monday, while the death toll climbed to 23,174 with 500 people succumbing to the infection, according to the Union Health Ministry data.  The number of recoveries stands at 5, 53,470, while there are 3, 01,609 active cases of corona virus infection presently in the country.  Thus, around 63.01 per cent of patients have recovered so far.  

86% total active corona virus cases are in 10 Indian states: Health ministry

The majority of the COVID-19 cases in the country, close to 86 per cent, are confined to 10 states with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu accounting for more than 50 per cent of them, Health Ministry said on Tuesday. "Eighty-six per cent of the total cases are confined to 10 states. Two of these have 50 per cent of these cases - Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu - and eight other states have 36 per cent cases," said Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Union Health Ministry at the daily press briefing. The other eight states, according to the Ministry, are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Gujarat, Assam and union territory of Delhi. Bhushan also said that the national average of COVID-19 recovery is 63 per cent in the country and 20 states in the country have a better average than the national average.

Human Trials for Vaccine Kick-started with 1000 Human Volunteers: ICMR

While addressing a daily press briefing on COVID-19, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday revealed that the human trials of the two indigenous vaccines for COVID had begun and that there were approximately 1000 human volunteers for the same. "The two candidates have got their sites ready and they are doing their clinical study on approximately a 1000 human volunteers each at different sites," Director General of ICMR, Balram Bhargava.  One of the primary runners in the race to develop India's first vaccine is Bharat Biotech, which has been developing a vaccine in collaboration with the ICMR and the NIV. The company received its DCGI nod on June 29 to go ahead with the human trials.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

WHO says countries taking 'wrong direction' on virus

The World Health Organization warned Monday that too many countries were bungling their response to the corona virus pandemic, meaning there could be no return to normality any time soon. After a daily record of 230,000 new COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday, the UN health agency said the pandemic was only going to get worse unless people stuck to the basics of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks and staying home if sick. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that some countries easing their way out of lockdowns were now witnessing a resurgence of the virus because they were not following proven methods to reduce risks. "I want to be straight with you: there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," Tedros told a virtual news briefing.

China plans to use Bangladesh population to conduct Phase III Covid-19 vaccine trials

China in a startling move plans to use the population of Bangladesh as 'guinea pigs' to conduct Phase III trials of its Covid vaccine. Well known Chinese firms Sinopharm and National Biotec are eyeing this possibility of human trials to be conducted on 40,000 persons with the help of Communist Party of China, ET has reliably learnt. While some Western Pharma companies have predatory practices, Chinese companies are now trying to exploit vulnerable populations for their profits. Last month there were reports that China may run the second phase trial of the corona virus vaccine in Bangladesh. This was announced by Director General (DG) of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr Abul Kalam Azad.

WHO says no return to normal for foreseeable future, chastises leaders for mixed messages

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the failures of some leaders to stop their countries’ spiraling outbreaks mean there would be no return to normal “for the foreseeable future”. Without taking any names, he said “too many countries are headed in the wrong direction” with the pandemic and some were not taking the proper steps to curb infections. The director general’s remarks came a day after WHO reported yet another worldwide record of more than 2,30,000 confirmed cases in 24 hours. Ten countries accounted for 80% of the daily tally reported on Sunday. “If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go,” said Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.” The WHO chief added that “mixed messages from leaders” were undermining public trust in attempts to bring the pandemic under control. 

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Shops, markets in Noida to stay shut on weekends; essential services allowed

All government offices, except those providing essential services and banks, markets and shops would remain closed during weekends -- Friday 10 pm to Monday 5 am across Gautam Buddh Nagar, officials said on Tuesday. District Magistrate Suhas L Y said new guidelines have been issued by the Uttar Pradesh government with respect to weekend restrictions and they will be applicable in Gautam Buddh Nagar henceforth, according to an official statement. During the period, special drives would be carried out at the district level for sanitation, water supply and door-to-door surveillance by local health department teams to check the spread of COVID-19 and other vector-borne diseases.

Covid-19 cases cross 10,000-mark in Maharashtra's Palghar district

The number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra's Palghar district crossed the 10,000-mark on Tuesday and reached 10,164 after 431 more people tested positive for the disease. The district also reported seven more deaths due to the disease, taking the toll to 188, he said. On July 1, the case count in the district was 5,239 and 134 deaths were reported till then, the official from the collectorate said. Out of the total 10,164 cases so far in Palghar, 8,338 were reported from the Vasai-Virar civic limits alone and the remaining 1,826 from rural areas of the district. Besides, the Vasai-Virar civic limits also reported 165 deaths due to the viral infection while the rural areas reported 23 fatalities, the official said. The overall recovery rate in the district on Tuesday was 70.21 per cent and the death rate was 1.85 per cent, as per the data.

608 new corona virus cases in Kerala

A record 608 new corona virus cases were detected in Kerala on Tuesday, taking the state's total such cases to 8,930 and active cases to 4,454, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. "Things are serious... in Thiruvananthapuram district itself there were 201 cases on Tuesday, of which 158 are local infectees. The total number of local infectees for the day in the state is 396. The state also registered one COVID death -- a 47-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia," said Vijayan. "According to WHO, the fourth stage is community spread. As things stand, we are now in the third stage of cluster spread, especially in Thiruvananthapuram and Malappuram. Hence from now on, all of us have to ensure that we should do everything to check the community spread. It's now going to be six months since we have been fighting COVID and we have to continue our caution," he added. As of date, the southern state has 227 corona hotspots.

Industry Updates 

FICCI-Swasth partnership to drive rapid healthcare transformation

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has partnered exclusively with Swasth, a not-for-profit consortium of healthcare players aimed at promoting access to healthcare through the recently launched platform with the same name. The FICCI-Swasth partnership aims to promote knowledge sharing in the field of telemedicine and digital health. It will also focus on promoting public-private as well as private sector collaborations. Swasth is working towards building a comprehensive healthcare solution for the masses by collaborating with relevant State and Central Government bodies as well as nodal agencies. Swasth App is already live with multiple offerings for COVID care which provide 360-degree health services from the safety of one’s home. This is the first time that the healthcare industry has come together for a not-for-profit initiative of this extent, with representation from almost all the major stakeholders, and an intention of making quality healthcare available to all.

IIT Delhi's low-cost Covid-19 test kit to be launched commercially on Wednesday

A low-cost COVID-19 test kit developed by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi that uses an alternative testing method will be launched on Wednesday, according to the IIT director. IIT Delhi, which became the first academic institute to develop a COVID-19 testing method, gave non-exclusive open licence to companies for commercialising the test, but with a price rider. While the institute had kept a price rider of Rs 500 per kit, the company Newtech Medical Devices, which is launching the kit named 'corosure' on Wednesday, has not announced the price yet. Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank and Minister of State for HRD Sanjay Dhotre will launch the kit.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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