COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Recovered Cases are 6.35 lakh and increasing

The actual case load of COVID-19 cases in the country is only 3,42,756, as on date. More than 6.35 lakhs (63.33%) of the total cases have recovered. India, being the second most populous country in the world with 1.35 billion people, has 727.4 cases per million. On the global scale, cases/million population in India is 4 to 8 times less than some European countries. The case fatality rate at 18.6 deaths/million of the country is one of the lowest in the world. The effective clinical management strategies have shown to yield positive results. Almost 80% of the asymptomatic and mild cases have been advised home isolation under medical supervision. The moderate and severe patients are being treated in either the Dedicated COVID Hospitals or Dedicated COVID Health Centres. Medical infrastructure to ensure quality treatment of the admitted patients is being continuously augmented across the country. As a result of concerted efforts, the COVID-19 Hospital Infrastructure to treat COVID-19 is stronger today. It has 1383 Dedicated COVID Hospitals, 3107 Dedicated COVID Healthcare Centres, and 10,382 COVID Care Centres.

ARCI & Vehant Technologies co-develop UV System for baggage Scan Disinfection to fight COVID 19

Both domestic and international travel has been a major reason for spread of the COVID 19 infection. In order to control spread of infection through baggage, International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), and Vehant Technologies, Noida have co-developed KritiScan® UV Baggage Disinfection System. The compact UVC conveyor system developed can efficiently disinfect the baggage passing through the conveyor within a few seconds and is suitable for use in airports, railway and bus stations, and hotels, commercial and private establishments for rapid disinfection of baggage. UVC based disinfection systems are known for their rapid disinfection capability, and the disinfection process is dry and chemical-free.

India on track for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): Dr. Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan, speaking on the success achieved by India on the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), said, “Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of India has declined by 9 points in one year as per the Special Bulletin on MMR released by the Registrar General of India. The ratio has declined from 122 in 2015-17 to 113 in 2016-18 (7.4 % decline).” He highlighted that the country has been witnessing a progressive reduction in MMR from 167 in 2011-2013, 130 in 2014-2016, 122 in 2015-17, and to 113 in 2016-18. Speaking on India’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “With this persistent decline, India is on track to achieving the SDG of 70/ lakh live births by 2030 and National Health Policy (NHP) target of 100/ live births by 2020. The number of states which have achieved the SDG target has now risen from 3 to 5 viz. Kerala (43), Maharashtra (46) Tamil Nadu (60), Telangana (63) and Andhra Pradesh (65). There are eleven (11) States that have achieved the target of MMR set by the NHP which includes the above 5 and the states of Jharkhand (71), Gujarat (75), Haryana (91), Karnataka (92), West Bengal (98) and Uttarakhand (99).” Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that three states (Punjab (129), Bihar (149), Odisha (150)) have MMR in between 100-150, while for 5 states namely, Chhattisgarh (159), Rajasthan (164), Madhya Pradesh (173), Uttar Pradesh (197) and Assam (215), MMR is above 150.

Department of Biotechnology and its Research Institution’s Accelerate development of COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics

Department of Biotechnology and its 16 Research Institutes are working relentlessly to mitigate COVID-19 crisis and are deeply engaged in multifaceted R & D for offering potential COVID-19 solutions. DBT-AIs (Autonomous Institutions) have focused their research efforts on the development of indigenous diagnostic tests to achieve self-sufficiency. A low-cost colorimetric PCR based assay-technology andan aptamer-based SARS-CoV-2antigen detection technology developed by DBT-THSTI, were transferred to Genei and Molbio Diagnostics Pvt. Limited, respectively. In-house IgG ELISA technology by DBT-THSTI was also transferred to XCyton Diagnostics Limited. DBT-RGCB along with POCT services, New Delhi developed a low-cost viral transport medium and RNA extraction kit that is ready for commercial use. Sharing of Biospecimens accelerates COVID-19 related research towards development of kits, therapeutics and vaccines. DBT-THSTI has distributed over 2500 sample aliquots in response to requests from industry, start-ups and academia.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Govt. asks states to upload rapid antigen testing data on ICMR portal

In a letter to all states and union territories Indian Council for Medical Research director general Balram Bhargava has said that with the use of rapid antigen tests, more and more tests are being carried out and therefore is absolutely necessary that all such testing data is uploaded on the ICMR database on real-time basis and all positive cases are brought to the authorities for isolation, quarantine or treatment."It is expected that to provide safe healthcare services, all government hospitals/labs as well as all private NABH/NABL hospitals/labs may initiate antigen testing and also apply for obtaining login credentials for data entry into the ICMR portal."

13,072,718 samples tested for corona virus till July 16, says ICMR 

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday said that a total 1, 30, 72,718 samples have been tested to diagnose COVID-19 up to July 16. While 3, 33,228 samples were tested on Thursday, the ICMR informed. With the highest single-day spike of 34,956 cases, and 687 deaths, India's COVID-19 positive cases crossed the 10 lakh mark on Friday, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The total positive cases stand at 10, 03,832 including 3, 42,473 active cases, 6, 35,757 cured/discharged/migrated and 25,602 deaths, according to the Ministry.


Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Russia accused of vaccine hacking 

Russia was accused of trying to steal corona virus vaccine research as the pandemic surged across the world.  The virus has killed more than 584,000 people, infected nearly 13.6 million and crippled the global economy since emerging late last year, and the world's hopes have turned to a vaccine to end the onslaught. In the latest positive sign, British media reported on Thursday that an Oxford University trial had shown its prototype vaccine generated an immune response against the virus. But hours later, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre said a hacking group called APT29 had targeted British labs conducting vaccine research to "steal valuable intellectual property". The agency said it was "almost certain (95%+) that APT29 are part of the Russian Intelligence Services" and its targeting of researchers was "highly likely (80-90%)" to "collect information on COVID-19 vaccine research." According to Media Reports, Moscow denied any involvement, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying, "Russia has nothing to do with these attempts."

Pelosi urges Trump to 'ask for directions' on virus crisis

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday compared President Donald Trump to the man who refuses to ask for directions as she pleaded with the White House to seek input from the nation's scientific leaders to reverse the rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths. The Democratic speaker urged Trump to invoke the full power of the Defense Production Act to boost much-needed supplies for corona virus testing and treatment as a weary nation battles the outbreak. Mr. President, admit it, you've gone down the wrong path, ask for directions, and ask for directions from the scientists, Pelosi said Thursday at the Capitol. Tensions are rising as Congress considers the next virus relief package with no apparent endgame in sight to the pandemic that now threatens longer-term economic and societal turmoil that first envisioned.

Spain to cull nearly 100,000 mink with corona virus

Spain has ordered the culling of nearly 100,000 mink on a farm in the northeast after confirming many were carrying corona virus, a regional minister said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters, Joaquin Olona, agriculture minister for the Aragon region, said the cull would involve the slaughter of some 92,700 mink  who are prized for their pelt. Located in Puebla de Valverde, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of the coastal resort of Valencia, the mink farm has been carefully monitored since May 22 after seven workers tested positive for COVID-19, he said. Since then, no animals have left the property, which is the only mink farm in Aragon.


State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Goa observes strict lockdown for 3 days amid Covid-19 spread

To keep an eye on the movement of the people, Goa police personnel are deployed on the coastal areas and cities in the view of a three-day lockdown imposed by the state government amid Covid-19 spread. North Goa Superintendent of Police Utkrisht Prasoon, "To keep the public movement restricted during the three-day lockdown, state police are posted in the coastal areas and cities. We have observed very little movement in public areas." The state government has announced a complete lockdown for three days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Over 13,000 register to volunteer for Bengaluru Police Covid duties

More than 13,470 people have registered to volunteer as civil police wardens with the Bengaluru Police, to assist in regulation and anti-Covid measures, said an official on Friday. "We are proud of Bengaluru and every Bengalurean. A call by the Commissioner of Police for civil police volunteers and we are overwhelmed with the response," said Additional Commissioner of Police Hemant Nimbalkar. He said 13,470 citizens, who care for the city, have registered to fight Covid shoulder to shoulder along with the police and called the response an unprecedented civic movement.

3.16 million People in quarantine across India, UP has the highest number

A whopping 3.16 million people are currently in quarantine across the country as authorities made concerted efforts to check the spread of the novel corona virus which has infected over 1 million people so far, officials said on Friday. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of people in quarantine among states, followed by Maharashtra, they said.

Covid-19 tally crosses 40,000-mark in AP, 42 deaths reported

The Covid-19 tally shot past the 40,000 mark in Andhra Pradesh on Friday as 2,062 fresh cases were added in the last 24 hours. The state's Covid-19 table now showed a total of 40,646 positive cases, with 19,814 of them being active after 20,298 patients were discharged. With 42 new casualties reported in the last 24 hours, the overall toll mounted to 534, the latest bulletin said.

Industry Updates 

CSIR suggests cap on Remdesivir price

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has suggested regulating price of the experimental Covid-19 medicine remdesivir used in hospitalized patients who are on oxygen support on the basis of a cost analysis of the API used in the formulation. The proposal states that the price of the drug can come down substantially and CSIR has submitted its recommendations depicting scope for sizeable reduction in cost of treatment with regard to the drug used for treating severely ill patients, sources said. “The proposal to cap the price of the drug is under active consideration by the drug price regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA),” an official told Media.

Supported by SAVLON, ASSOCHAM launches “Illness to Wellness” a national awareness programme to Promote Healthy Living 

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), one of the apex trade associations of India has started a national health & wellness awareness program called ‘Illness to Wellness’ to promote healthy living and preventive health through holistic measures. Supported by the hygiene brand SAVLON, the programme was kicked off with a webinar on the topic “Illness to Wellness – The Yoga Way” which saw leading health and yoga experts and recognized industry leaders deliberate on how Yoga could be the answer for mitigating threats caused by viruses and other ailments like the COVID 19. Promoting adoption of correct lifestyle and wellness strategy, Dr HR Nagendra, Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana & President, Indian Yoga Association said, “During the present COVID pandemic situations, Yoga – A Way of Life – can bring wellness for people at large.  Anil Rajput, Chairman, ASSOCHAM CSR Council said, “Illness to Wellness has been timely conceived to bring the spotlight back on aspects we perhaps know at the back of our mind, but many are not able to practice in the rush of a busy life, such as the importance of healthy diet, exercise, hygienic habits, and timely preventive practices among others.”