COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India Reports 37,148 fresh COVID-19 cases, Govt warns against use of N-95 masks with valved respirators

India reported 37,148 cases and 587 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of coronavirus infections to 11,55,191 including 28084 casualties, 4,02,529 active cases and 7,24,578 people who have been treated and discharged so far, according to the data by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  The Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have suggested a set of short-term and medium-term actions for state governments to enhance the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity. AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, who is part of the core team monitoring the pandemic in India, has reportedly said that data from the national capital suggests that the Covid curve is flattening and Delhi “may have crossed the peak.” Meanwhile, the Centre has written to all states and union territories warning against the use of N-95 masks with valved respirators by people, saying these do not prevent the virus from spreading out and are “detrimental” to the measures adopted for its containment.

Sero-prevalence study conducted by National Center for Disease Control [NCDC], MoHFW, in Delhi, June 2020

The results of the sero-prevalence study show that on an average, across Delhi, the prevalence of IgG antibodies is 23.48 %.  The study also indicates that a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare [MoHFW] commissioned a sero-surveillance study in Delhi. This study has been done by the National Center for Disease Control [ NCDC] in collaboration with Govt of National Capital Territory of Delhi, following a rigorous multi-stage sampling study design. Study was conducted from 27th of June 2020 to 10th July 2020. 21,387 samples were collected as per lab standardsand were tested. The tests help in identification of presence of antibodies in the general population. These test performed is not a diagnostic test but only provides information about past infection due to SARSCoV-2 in individuals who test positive. Antibody testing repeatedly done over time i.e. sero-surveillance, generates important evidence for assessing the spread of the pandemic from time to time. The Results implies nearly six months into the epidemic, only 23.48% of the people are affected in Delhi, which has several pockets of dense population. 

Case Fatality Rate declines to 2.46%

The Case Fatality Rate in the country continues to register a steady downfall. It has dropped to 2.46%, according to the Ministry data. India has one of the lowest Case Fatality Rates in the world. Effective clinical management of the moderate and severe cases through a well executed Standard of Care protocol has ensured high rate of recovery among the COVID patients. The Centre is handholding and supporting the State/UT governments in collectively combating COVID-19. One such initiative is e-ICU program of AIIMS, New Delhi. Aimed at reducing mortality, AIIMS has mentored and supported 43 big hospitals in 11 States through shared experiences and technical advice from domain experts in clinical management of ICU patients. This has substantially boosted their capacity in treatment of critical care patients. More than 7 lakh persons have been cured of COVID-19 and discharged till now. This has further expanded the difference between those who are active COVID patients and the recovered persons (7, 00,086) by 3, 09,627. 22,664 COVID patients have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The recovery rate as of now is at 62.62%.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Union Health Sect, ICMR ask states/UTs to ramp up testing capacity

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General, Dr Balram Bhargava, have written to all states and union territories (UTs) to ramp up COVID-19 testing capacity. The letter, dated July 17, states that increasing the testing capacity may be achieved by increasing the number of labs and enhancing the existing testing capacity of the approved labs. They said that a strategy has been devised for increasing COVID-19 testing, which requires the "coordinated effort from the state government as well as various departments of Centre, and scientific bodies such as ICAR, DBT, among others under the Union government."

NITI Aayog says will make COVID-19 vaccine affordable

Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog on Tuesday said, "India's two COVID-19 vaccines are in phase 1 and 2 of trials. Discussions have already begun how will the vaccines be made available to all those who need it." "The government will leave no stone unturned to ensure people of India and international community have access to an Indian vaccine as early as possible. Every possible facilitation will be ensured making sure trials conducted scientifically and ethically, and we arrive at an affordable option," he added.

Aggressive testing is necessary, says Centre

The Union health ministry on Tuesday said that "aggressive" testing is necessary to reduce the spread of corona virus in the country. "Aggressive testing is necessary to bring down COVID-19 positivity rate; the aim is to maintain this level of testing so as to bring down positivity rate below 5 percent," said Rajesh Bhushan, OSD, Health Ministry. He added that 19 States and Union Territories are performing more than 140 tests per day per million populations.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Pandemic situation of indigenous American concerning: WHO chief

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that his organization is deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples in the Americas, the current epicenter of the pandemic. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference on Monday that as of July 6, over 70,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths have been reported among indigenous peoples in the Americas. "Most recently, at least 6 cases have been reported among the Nahua people, who live in the Peruvian Amazon," the WHO chief said. According to him, there are up to 500 million indigenous peoples worldwide in over 90 countries, who often have a high burden of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and both communicable and non-communicable diseases, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 and its severe outcomes.

WHO sounds alarm at spread of corona virus in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced alarm at the spread of COVID-19 in Africa, warning South Africa's surging numbers could be a "precursor" for outbreaks across the continent. "I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa," WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference. Until recently, Africa remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared with rising numbers in other parts of the world. With more than 15,000 deaths and close to 725,000 cases, the continent remains the world's second-least affected after Oceania. But the situation has become increasingly worrying, particularly in South Africa. On Saturday, South Africa reported a surge of 13,373 new cases, the fourth-largest globally. The country, which over the weekend saw its death toll from corona virus pass the 5,000 mark with more than 350,000 infections, is by far Africa's hardest-hit.

More than 60,000 new virus cases every day in US

The United States on Monday recorded more than 60,000 new cases of corona virus infection for the seventh consecutive day, Johns Hopkins University reported in its real-time tally. With another 488 deaths and 61,288 cases registered in 24 hours, the country has a total of 140,922 deaths and 3.82 million cases, the Baltimore-based University said at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Tuesday). President Donald Trump on Monday finally spoke out in favor of mask-wearing -- a marked change of tune as polls show him headed for election disaster in November as the US has emerged as the world's worst-hit country in the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

50-bed dedicated Covid-19 hospital opened in Bengaluru

To meet the growing need for hospitalisation of corona virus patients amid rising cases, a 50-bed dedicated Covid hospital-cum-emergency training centre has been opened in the city's northwest suburb, an official said on Tuesday. "As Covid cases are peaking in the city, there is a dire need to increase hospital beds for treating positive cases on priority," said Karnataka Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar after unveiling Prakriya super-specialty hospital. The private hospital also has a 40-room Covid care centre to quarantine asymptomatic patients. "The hospital also has facility for deliveries of pregnant Covid-infected women, dialysis for the infected, and an operation theatre for emergency surgeries of virus- affected patients," said its chief executive Srinivas Chirukuri in a statement.

Tripura's Covid-19 tally crosses 3,000-mark

Over 200 more people, including 19 BSF personnel, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tripura, taking the total number of cases in the state to 3,094, officials said on Tuesday. The state also reported two fresh deaths due to the disease in the last 24 hours, they said. Two women, aged 80 and 62 years, died at the Agartala Government Medical College on Monday. They both were suffering from heart ailments, the officials said. The state had registered its first COVID-19 death on June 9. All the corona virus patients who have died till date in the state had comorbidities, the officials said. "Alert! 202 people found COVID-19 positive out of 4,747 samples tested. Among the total 202 COVID-19 positive, 19 are BSF personnel. 2 COVID-19 positive patients died today," Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb tweeted on Monday night.

West Bengal to observe lockdown on July 23, 25, 29

West Bengal will remain in lockdown on July 23, July 25 and July 29 from 6 am to 10 pm each day in the view of corona virus outbreak, according to an order by the state government. On Monday, the West Bengal government announced a lockdown in the state for two days every week starting from July 23. In a press conference, West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said, "There will be a two-day complete lockdown every week starting from Thursday. Lockdown will be on Thursday and Saturday this week. This lockdown has been imposed in addition to running a broad-based containment zone approach." According to the order, during the lockdown on aforesaid days all government and private offices, commercial establishments, public and private transport and all activities not covered under exceptions as below shall remain closed.

Industry Updates 

Double-shot corona virus vaccine tests raise new pandemic challenge for the world

When it comes to protecting the world from the corona virus, two doses of a vaccine may be better than one. But doubling the number of jabs each person needs could complicate efforts to immunize billions of people. The latest results from front-runners in the sprint to come up with a vaccine, including the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc partnership and Moderna Inc., highlight that prospect. Both efforts are conducting final-stage testing with two doses. Producing vaccines and deploying them to the world’s population in the midst of a pandemic would be a massive challenge even if researchers are able to deliver one-dose inoculations. A need for two would make manufacturing and logistics even more complex. Those challenges would get even tougher if -- as some experts think is possible -- a vaccine’s efficacy wanes over time and repeat doses are needed, potentially every year.

Phase II trial finds Chinese Covid-19 vaccine is safe, induces immune response

A phase II clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, conducted in China, has found that it is safe and induces an immune response, a study published in The Lancet says. Scientists, including those from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the trial sought to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate. They said the results provide data from a wider group of participants than their earlier phase I trial, including a small sub-group of participants aged over 55 years and older. However, the researchers cautioned that no participants in the current trial were exposed to the novel corona virus, SARS-CoV-2, after vaccination. So they said it is not possible for the current study to determine whether the vaccine candidate effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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