COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India’s Covid toll tops 35,000, fifth highest in world now

More than 54,000 fresh Covid-19 cases and 786 fatalities were reported from across the country on Thursday, both highest in a single day so far, even as the overall death count from the pandemic crossed 35,000, with more than 5,000 being reported in the last seven days. India now has the fifth highest Covid-19 death toll in the world after overtaking Italy’s fatality count of 35,132. The country’s overall toll stood at 35,748 on Thursday night. Of these, 18,356 have come in July alone, more than all Covid-19 deaths in the previous months put together. India’s corona virus caseload crossed 16 lakh, with a record 54,211 new cases on Thursday, as per data collated from state governments. Maharashtra reported 11,147 fresh infections, the highest in a single day in any state, and Andhra Pradesh 10,167, becoming the only state to report 10,000-plus daily cases two days in a row. 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairs 19th meeting of Group of Ministers (GOM) 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare chaired the 19th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 by a video-conference, today. He stated that India has achieved the milestone of more than 1 million recoveries which has taken the Recovery Rate to 64.54%. This shows that the active cases under medical supervision are only 33.27% or approximately 1/3rd of total positive cases. India’s Case Fatality Rate is also progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18%, one of the lowest globally. Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Out of the total Active Cases, only 0.28% patients are on Ventilators, 1.61% Patients needed ICU support and 2.32% are on Oxygen support”. On the rapidly expanding testing capacity of India, the Union Health Minister highlighted that as on date, through a network of 1331 labs (with 911- Government labs and 420 private labs), India has conducted a record 6, 42,588 tests in the last 24 hours. This has taken the cumulative tests to more than 1.88 crore.

Government releases a compendium of Covid-19 technologies and products developed by CSIR

Minister of Science &Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has announced that Indian scientists from DBT & CSIR have sequenced more than 1000 SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes making it the largest effort in the country. “This will help in understanding the prevalent strains and the mutation spectrum in India, which will help in diagnostics, drugs and vaccines”, he said. Dr. Harsh Vardhan was speaking while releasing a compendium of Covid-19 technologies and products developed by CSIR. He said “The compendium brought out by CSIR captures the technologies and products well in one place and can help industries and other agencies who are seeking solutions for Covid-19 to access them easily.” Dr Harsh Vardhan also complimented the role of CSIR in bringing repurposed drugs against Covid-19 to patients at the earliest in partnership with industry such as Cipla for Favipiravir. He emphasized that efforts such as these will benefit Covid19 patients by making the drugs affordable.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Herd immunity far away, Covid-19 vaccine only option: Health Ministry

The herd immunity level is “far away” for the Indian population and it can only be achieved through immunization by vaccines, a top health ministry official said on Thursday and added that reaching this threshold – believed to be crucial for the Covid-19 outbreak to end – in any other manner will exact too high a cost. The official also hinted that India is looking at a multilateral, WHO-led mechanism to secure Covid vaccines and the country is yet to begin direct discussions with any of the developers that are leading the development race. “For a large country like India, herd immunity cannot be a strategic choice or a strategic option... It will come at too high a cost and can be done only through immunizations via vaccination,” said Rajesh Bhushan, the officer on special duty, health ministry, during a briefing on Thursday. The march of an infectious disease such as Covid-19 can be halted only when there is a large enough proportion of the population that is immune to it – a threshold known as herd immunity. Besides a vaccine, which is yet to be approved, the only way people become immune is if they have had the disease and recovered. “Government has not signed an agreement with any vaccine manufacturing company. There are multiple stakeholders within and outside government and ministry of health has started actively engaging with such stakeholders. It’s too premature to comment on supply and distribution of vaccine at this stage but whenever it comes it has to be deployed on a much larger scale than the existing vaccines,” said Bhushan. 

ICMR norms being flouted in Hyderabad containment zones

Ground verification revealed that several guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for containment zones were not being followed. There are 92 containment zones under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) jurisdiction. Restriction of public movement inside zones, deployment of rapid response teams (RRT) to map cases, contact tracing, and marking of buffer zones were some of the exercises which were not being carried out judiciously. As on date, in most of these zones, efforts to carry out fever survey, check condition of home isolation patients, and distribute home isolation kits have been lacking.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

WHO praises Saudi Arabia for Hajj Covid-19 measures 

The head of the World Health Organization on Thursday praised the precautionary measures taken by Saudi Arabia during this year's Hajj. "I’d like to congratulate the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the steps it has put in place to make the Hajj as safe as possible this year," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, said in Geneva. "This is a powerful demonstration of the kinds of measures that countries can and must take to adapt to the new normal." The Saudi assistant minister of health said that no corona virus cases were recorded among the pilgrims. The scaled-back pilgrimage begun on Wednesday, with about 1,000 pilgrims attending, compared to the usual 2 million. Instead of praying shoulder to shoulder in large crowds, pilgrims have been socially distancing and only allowed to move in groups of 20. Usually throngs of them come from abroad but this year, only foreigners who live in the kingdom were allowed.

Young people not entirely safe from corona virus, WHO reiterates

With the seventh month of battling the corona virus pandemic over, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday repeated that guard can't be let down and blamed the younger population for driving the surge in some countries, adding that they aren't "invincible." Instead of partying and ignoring precautions, they should be "drivers of change," said the chief of the UN body Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Tedros told press that although it is well-established that older people, and those involved in long-term care, are more vulnerable, the younger lot isn't completely safe either. "We have said it before and we'll say it again: young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected; young people can die, and young people can transmit the virus to others," he added. 

US records a corona virus death every minute on July 29 as total surpasses 150,000

One person in the United States died about every minute from Covid-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world. The United States recorded 1,461 new deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day increase since 1,484 on May 27, according to a Reuters tally. US corona virus deaths are rising at their fastest rate in two months and have increased by 10,000 in the past 11 days. Nationally, Covid-19 deaths have risen for three weeks in a row while the number of new cases week-over-week recently fell for the first time since June.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Uttar Pradesh conducts average 97,516 Covid-19 tests in last three days

With Covid-19 tests in full swing in Uttar Pradesh, the state has averaged 97,516 testings in last three days, said Alok Kumar, Secretary to Uttar Pradesh CM here on Friday. "UP Govt. registered a new high of 115,618 in Covid-19 testing. Last three days average 97,516. Along with this, we traced maximum infection in a day 4,453. Our priority remains to minimise the deaths due to Covid-19, cumulative CFR goes down below 2.0" Alok Kumar tweeted on Friday.

Tamil Nadu reports 5,881 new Covid-19 cases, 97 deaths

The number of corona virus cases in Tamil Nadu saw a dip for a second day in row on Friday, with the state reporting 5,881 infections. With the new additions, the total number of infected went up to 2, 45,859, even as 97 deaths were reported today, a health department bulletin said.

1,986 new Covid-19 cases and 14 deaths reported in Telangana

As many as 1,986 new Covid-19 cases and 14 deaths were reported in Telangana on Friday, taking the total tally in the state to 62,703, said the state government. According to the official data, the state currently has 16,796 active cases and 45,388 cured/discharged cases. With 14 more deaths, a total of 519 people have lost their lives to Covid-19. As per the government of Telangana, the recovery rate in the state is 72.3 per cent, while the fatality rate is 0.82 per cent.

Odisha's Covid-19 tally increases to 31,877

The tally of Covid-19 positive cases has gone up to 31,877 in Odisha with the detection of as many as 1,499 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the health department on Friday. The number of Covid deaths rose to 177 with eight more fatalities in the last 24 hours. While four deaths were reported from Ganjam, one each was reported from Khordha, Nayagarh, Sundargarh and Gajapati.

7 deaths, 362 more Covid-19 cases in Rajasthan

362 more Covid-19 cases and seven deaths have been reported from Rajasthan on Friday, taking the total corona virus cases in the state to 41,298, said the State Health Department. According to the official data, the state currently has 11,319 active cases and 29,305 recovered cases. With seven more deaths, a total of 674 people have lost their lives to Covid-19.

Industry Updates

Indian health-tech pioneer develops the world's first digital vaccine candidate for Covid-19

In the global race against time for a Covid-19 vaccine, this could be a game-changing scientific breakthrough. Indian serial entrepreneur and investor, Bhargav Sri Prakash, Founder & CEO of health tech pioneer, FriendsLearn have expanded a longstanding partnership with data scientists and AI researchers at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA) to undertake a proposed population health human trial with a Digital Vaccine candidate (FYA-003) for Covid-19. This initiative is led by healthcare informatics and analytics expert in the field, Prof Rema Padman and her team, through innovative extensions of the Digital Vaccine Project.

FACT supports Govt of Kerala fight against COVID-19

Fertilizers And Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers supports Government of Kerala in their fight against Covid-19 by allotting its main auditorium, M K KNayar Hall, for setting up a Covid First-Line Treatment Center (CFLTC) by Eloor Municipality, to accommodate 100 beds. For this purpose, the Company has also supplied cots, beds, mattresses, etc. under its CSR initiative.

 NGOs in Hyderabad launch 14 ambulance services, setup common command room to serve covid patients

With an increasing number of patients unable to get ambulance services, NGOs in Hyderabad have launched 14 ambulance services and a common command room has also been set up to serve covid patients. Speaking to Media, A.K.Khan, IPS (Retd.), Advisor to Government of Telangana, Minorities Welfare said, "Today, the entire world is affected by covid-19, the number of covid cases understandably are increasing day by day. There is a great need to transport patients to hospitals. Alongside if an unfortunate incident or any fatality occurs, shifting to the burial ground or cremation ground is also important. Some facilities are available but they are not sufficient."

Japan secures 120 mn doses of potential corona-vaccine: pharma group

Japan has signed a deal to secure 120 million doses of a potential corona virus vaccine, German pharmaceutical group BioNTech, which is developing the drug with US pharma giant Pfizer, said Friday. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, with BioNTech saying the terms were based on the timing of the delivery and volume of doses. But an agreement announced recently between the labs and the United States put the price of 100 million doses of the potential vaccine at almost $2 billion. First deliveries to Japan are planned for the first half of 2021, added the Mainz-based company.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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