COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India continues to report one of the lowest deaths per million population 

India continues to report one of the lowest deaths per million population which stands at 81 today. Less than 1100 deaths have been reported continuously since 2nd October. These results are boosted by 22 States/UTs which had demonstrated better performance and are reporting even lower deaths per million compared to the national average. Case fatality rate has been on the downslide continuously. At the current figure of 1.52%, it is the lowest since 22nd March 2020. Maintaining the spree of registering more recoveries than the new confirmed cases, 70,338 single day recoveries were registered in last 24 hours as against 63,371 new confirmed cases. The total recovered cases stand at 64,53,779. The gap between Recovered cases and Active cases has crossed 56 lakh (56,49,251). The recovered cases are 8 times more than the active case now. The Active Cases are sliding continuously. Presently the active cases comprise merely 10.92% of the total positive cases of the country standing at 8,04,528. Higher number of recoveries has aided the national Recovery Rate to further improve to 87.56%. 78% of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 States/UTs. Maharashtra alone has contributed the maximum with more than 13,000 single day recovery. 79% of the new cases are from 10 States and UTs. Maharashtra continues to be the State reporting a very high number of new cases with more than 10,000 cases followed by Karnataka with more than 8,000 cases. 

Centre rushes High Level Central teams to Severely affected states 

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has deputed high level Central teams to Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. These States have been reporting a surge in the number of new COVID cases in the recent days.Each team comprises of a Jt. Secretary (nodal officer for the respective State), one public health expert to look after the public health aspects, one clinician to look after infection prevention practices, clinical management protocol being followed by the State.The teams will support the State efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control measures, and efficient clinical management of the positive cases.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan calls for building a Jan-Andolan against COVID 

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in his capacity as Chairman joined the Annual General Meeting of Indian Red Cross Society and St. John’s Ambulance through video conference, yesterday.Thanking Hon’ble President of India and President of Indian Red Cross Society & St. John Ambulance (India) Sh. Ram NathKovind for his continued encouragement and support to IRCS, he noted, “This is for the first time that a meeting of this kind in IRCS has been organized virtually. However and as we all know, this is the ‘new normal’ of our life these days.”Congratulating all members of IRCS as it completes its 100 years of existence saving innumerable lives and improving the quality of life of a large section of people, he brought attention of the members to the present pandemic which is in its tenth month currently. He said our collective efforts have helped save many lives. We will continue the momentum and protect our citizens from the virus.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

ICMR seeks govt panel approval to test cancer drug in WHO’s Covid Solidarity trial

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has requested the Narendra Modi government’s panel of experts to approve testing of cancer drug acalabrutinib as part of the World Heath Organization’s global ‘Solidarity’ trial, which is testing drugs to find an effective treatment for Covid-19. ICMR’s National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) — the institute responsible for conducting WHO’s trial in India — has presented the government’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC) with a proposal to amend Solidarity’s ongoing protocol by adding a trial arm to test acalabrutinib.

Covid-19 doubling time improves: Health ministry

The doubling time of the coronavirus infection has sharply improved from 25.5 days in mid-August to nearly 73 days now, the Health ministry said on Thursday. Doubling time for Covid-19 is the number of days it takes for the count of cases to double. In a statement, the Health Ministry said 81,514 new recoveries were added in the last 24 hour. With this, the total number of recoveries are nearly 64 Lakh (63,83,441). "India has come a long way from registering a doubling rate of 25.5 days in mid August to now registering a doubling rate of nearly 73 days (72.8 days)," it said. The ministry said this is the result of collaborative action by states/UTs under the Centre's strategy of comprehensive and high countrywide testing, prompt and effective surveillance and tracking, quick hospitalization and effective adherence of the Standard Treatment Protocol issued by the Union Government.

Ensure all official meetings begin with messages on Covid-19 precautions: Govt to all depts.

All central government departments have been asked to ensure that official meetings begin with messages on Covid-19 precautions so as to sensitise officers and staff about the pandemic, according to a Personnel ministry order. The government has issued several instructions to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it said. "In continuation, it has since been decided that all central government offices shall ensure that every meeting commences with messages on Covid-19 related precautions, so as to sensitise officers and staff about the pandemic," said the order issued on Wednesday.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Top U.S. health official Fauci says Trump no longer coronavirus contagious: CBS interview

U.S. President Donald Trump is no longer capable of spreading the novel coronavirus and can attend a town hall on Thursday without putting others at risk, top U.S. public health official Anthony Fauci said in an interview with CBS Evening News. Fauci said that he and his colleague Clifford Lane at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded this after reviewing all the COVID-19 tests taken by the president as well as an additional test conducted at an NIH laboratory.

Europe thought it had tamed COVID-19; continent now faces virus resurgence

From France to Russia, from Britain to the Czech Republic, European leaders are confronting a surge in coronavirus cases that is rapidly filling hospital beds, driving up death tolls and raising the grim prospect of further lockdowns in countries already traumatized by the pandemic. The continent, which once compared favourably to the United States in its handling of the pandemic, is being engulfed by a second wave of infection. With an average of more than 100,000 new infections per day over the past week, Europe now accounts for about one-third of new cases reported worldwide. In the most vivid sign of the deteriorating situation, President Emmanuel Macron of France on Wednesday imposed a curfew of 9 pm to 6 am in the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas, beginning Saturday. “The virus is everywhere in France,” he told the French public as he declared a state of emergency.

Young, healthy people may not get Covid vaccine until 2022: WHO

World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan on Thursday said that young and healthy people may have to wait till 2022 to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Swaminathan also stressed that health workers and those at highest risks should be prioritised. She indicated that, despite the many vaccine trials being undertaken, speedy, mass shots were unlikely, and organising who would given access first in the event of a safe vaccine being discovered was still being worked on. "Most people agree, it's starting with healthcare workers, and frontline workers, but even there, you need to define which of them are at highest risk, and then the elderly, and so on," Swaminathan was quoted as saying to The Guardian.

Sri Lanka faces biggest test yet to its virus response

As the number of daily cases of COVID-19 continues to rise in Sri Lanka, following a new wave identified at a garment factory earlier this month, the spotlight has fallen on two issues. One, the source of these infections, and the other, the plight of workers engaged in the apparel factories that fetch precious foreign exchange. Although Sri Lanka contained the pandemic effectively in the last few months, the latest outbreak is the biggest test yet to the country’s much-hailed pandemic response from the public health sector with the Army’s support. Especially since authorities are yet to track down the source of the latest cluster, unlike in the previous waves of COVID-19 infections in the country.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

"Covid Warriors Can't March On Empty Stomach": Protesting Delhi Doctors

Amid the crisis over pending salaries of doctors of civic body-run hospitals in Delhi, many medics on Thursday expressed their anguish over the issue, saying they would bravely combat the pandemic situation and serve people but "Covid warriors can't march on an empty stomach". Resident doctors of three North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC)-run hospitals are currently holding an agitating seeking release of their salaries due for the last three months. Also, an association of permanent doctors of civic-body run hospitals has warned of holding an indefinite strike from October 19 if their demands were not met.

Delhi: Non-Covid ICUs at 75% occupancy, Covid-19 ICUs at 53%

Over 75% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds for non-Covid-19 patients in Delhi beds are occupied. There are 1,522 ICU beds—with and without ventilators—for the treatment of patients with illnesses other than Covid-19, shows the government’s ‘Delhi Corona’ app, much lesser than the ones earmarked for the disease. There are 3,171 ICU beds earmarked for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in Delhi currently. With the city recording fewer cases over the last two weeks in the city, the occupancy of the Covid-19 ICU beds has reduced to just over 50%.

Delhi records 3,483 coronavirus cases; death toll reaches 5,924

Delhi recorded as many as 3,483 fresh coronavirus cases. With this, the tally of coronavirus cases in the state has mounted to over 3.21 lakh on Thursday, while the death toll mounted to 5,924. Forty-four fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department. According to a health bulletin issued by the Delhi government, 55,891 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. The case tally stands at 3,21,031 in the national capital, including 2,92,502 patients who have either been discharged, or have migrated or recovered.

Pune COVID-19 tally rises by 549, PCMC records 322 new cases

Pune reported 549 new coronavirus cases yesterday, taking its COVID-19 count to 1,56,144. As per the update by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Mayor Murlidhar Mohol, 21 people succumbed to the infection, with this the death toll went up to 3,920. A total of 825 patients were discharged during the day, taking the number of active cases to 10,536. As of now, 1,41,688 people were dischraged/recovered. Yesterday 4,220 tests were conducted taking the total count to 6,92,156.

Mumbai's COVID-19 caseload mounts to 2,36,725; death toll sands at 9,598

Mumbai's COVID-19 tally rose to 2,36,725 with the addition of 2,119 new cases, while 46 fresh deaths took the toll to 9,598 on Thursday, the city civic body said. The tally of fresh cases and fatalities was lower compared to Wednesday when 2,211 new COVID-19 infections and 48 fatalities were recorded. According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) 1,970 more COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitalsin the last 24 hours, taking the number of recoveries to 2,03,467. At presently, the city's COVID-19 recovery rate is 86 per cent and it has 20,922 active cases, the civic body said. On Wednesday, the financial capital had crossed the milestone of 2 lakh recovered patients. The BMC said it has done 13.10 lakh COVID-19 tests so far. The city has an average growth rate of 0.90 per cent, while the average doubling rate of COVID-19 cases is 77 days, it said.

Industry Updates

3 firms get clinical trial nod for alternative Covid drugs

Domestic players are working on multiple off-label therapies that may be useful for treating Covid-19. The drug regulator is evaluating several of these proposals that have come from firms such as Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Piramal Pharma, and Cadila Healthcare, among others. Hyderabad-based DRL, for example, has been asked to conduct phase-3 clinical trial of a potential cancer drug (2-Deoxy-d-Glucose oral power, or 2-DG) to see if it works as a therapy for Covid-19 patients. The drug 2-DG stops glucose supply to the cells, which then start dying. 

Apollo Hospitals ready to administer 1 million COVID-19 vaccines per day

Apollo Hospitals said on October 15 that it ws gearing up its network of pharmacies, clinics and hospitals to deliver 1 million COVID-19 vaccines per day. Apollo has a pan India web of 19 medicine supply hubs with cold chain facilities, 70 hospitals, 400 plus clinics, 500 corporate health centers, 4000 pharmacies alongside its omni-channel digital platform Apollo 24|7 to ensure massive administration capacity of COVID-19 vaccines. The hospital chain said it is also training 10,000 healthcare workers to be able to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. The healthcare workers will be given four month training and certification, using Apollo's nursing schools and online education platform.

Oxford scientists develop 5-minute Covid-19 antigen test

Scientists from Britain’s University of Oxford have developed a rapid Covid-19 test able to identify the coronavirus in less than five minutes, researchers said on Thursday, adding it could be used in mass testing at airports and businesses. The university said it hoped to start product development of the testing device in early 2021 and have an approved device available six months afterwards.

Covid forms 40% of total health insurance claims

As of September, Covid now forms 40% of total health claims for the general insurance industry. It has been steadily increasing from 8% in May to 23% in July to 34% in August - as cases rise and reliance on private healthcare increases. "This is scary - Covid claims now nearly form half of total health industry claims. And one must remember that non-Covid claims have also been increasing. In March and April when the lockdown was severely enforced, we saw people postponing planned surgeries like a cataract operation or knee-cap surgery. But in September, non-Covid claims had risen because of the pile-up; caused by people postponing necessary treatment in the first half of the lockdown," says Amit Chhabra, business head - health,

Sanofi plans human trial for experimental Covid vaccine after positive animal test results

An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Translate Bio Inc. and French drug giant Sanofi elicited high levels of protective neutralizing antibodies in early-stage animal studies, clearing the way for a clinical trial to start later this year. Two doses of the candidate induced neutralizing antibodies “significantly higher” than those observed in Covid-19 patients as well as a response in infection-fighting T-cells in non-human primates, the companies said in a statement.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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