COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Access to the vaccine should be ensured speedily:  Prime Minister 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while reviewing the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country and the preparedness of vaccine delivery, distribution, and administration, stressed that access to the vaccine should be ensured speedly. He said that every step in the logistics, delivery, and administration should be put in place rigorously. He further directed that we should make use of experience of successful conduct of elections and disaster management in the country. The Prime Minister said that in a similar manner vaccine delivery and administration systems should be put in place. This should involve the participation of States / UTs / District Level functionaries, civil society organisations, volunteers, citizens, and experts from all necessary domains.

India sustains trend of consistently low Active Cases, Active Caseload below 8 lakh for the third day

India has crossed another milestone in its fight against COVID-19. The national cumulative Positivity Rate has fallen under 8%. This trend has been sustained without a break for four days. The cumulative Positivity Rate is 7.94% now and is on a continuous decline. The total tests have crossed 9.5 crores today. The average Daily Positivity Rate is 6.13% for the third week of October. India continues to report a trend of steadily declining active cases. For the third day after the active cases dropped below the 8 lakh mark after a month and a half, the progressive decline continues. India's active caseload stands at 7,72,055 today. Presently the active cases comprise merely 10.23% of the total positive cases of the country. The total recovered cases are more than 66 Lakhs (66,63,608) thereby enhancing the difference with respect to the active cases. 66,399 patients have recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours whereas the new confirmed cases stand at 55,722. 

National Recovery Rate has progressed to 88.26%

The national Recovery Rate has progressed to 88.26%. 79% of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 States/UTs viz. Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh. Maharashtra alone has contributed the maximum with more than 11,000 single day recovery followed by Kerala and Karnataka with more than 8,000 recoveries each. 55,722 new confirmed cases were recorded in last 24 hours. 81% 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 9,000 cases followed by Kerala and Karnataka with more than 7,000 cases each. 579 case fatalities have been reported in the past 24 hours. After 90 days, the daily deaths recorded are below 600. Of these, nearly 83% are concentrated in ten State/UTs. More than 25% of new fatalities reported are from Maharashtra (150 deaths).

Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairs a meeting on COVID Appropriate Behavior 

Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on Friday chaired a meeting with Heads/ Directors of Autonomous Institutions under the Department of Science &Technology and CSIR through video conferencing to review the activities taken under the “Jan Andolan” on COVID Appropriate Behaviour. Highlighting the importance of the coming months in the country’s collective fight against the pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “We are now entering into the tenth month of our fight against COVID-19. It was on the 8th of January when we had our first meeting of the expert group. Since then, the journey has been relentless. But today, we can proudly say that we have created significant infrastructure for our fight against COVID.” The Minister applauded the great work carried out by all scientists, even beyond their mandates, and said that today there are 9 vaccine candidates in the world which are in advanced stages. He expressed the hope that India will soon have indigenous production of Corona vaccine. Pointing out that the fight against COVID is not over yet, Dr. Harsh Vardhan cautioned people against complacence, carelessness and casual attitude towards combating COVID-19. 

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Dr. Harsh Vardhan extends best wishes of SharadNavratri to everyone during Sunday Samvaad-6

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare answered many inquisitive social media interactors on the sixth episode of Sunday Samvaad. Offering his heartfelt wishes for Navaratri, he exhorted his followers to honour the Prime Minister’s call for Jan Andolan and religiously follow COVID appropriate behavior becoming its ambassador to others. Dr. Harsh Vardhan shared his views on the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Kerala. Noting that between January 30 & May 3, Kerala had reported just 499 cases and 2 deaths due to COVID-19, he regretted that Kerala was paying the price of gross negligence during the recent Onam festivities when State-wise unlocking of services, along with an increase in inter and intrastate travel for trade and tourism, led to the spreading of COVID-19 cases across various districts; “Epicurve of Kerala changed completely due to Onam festivities across the State, the daily new cases nearly doubled.” The Minister said this ought to serve as a good lesson for all the state government which were being negligent in planning for the festival season. 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan discusses implementation of Prime Minister’s Jan Andolan with Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Nitinbhai Patel

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare today interacted with Sh. Nitinbhai Patel, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Medical Education, Gujarat in the presence of district collectors of all the districts and senior health officials of the State and the Union. Reminding everyone that the country is currently in the tenth month of the pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Active cases are currently around 7,72,000 which has been less than 10 lakhs for close to a month. 55,722 cases were reported in the last 24 hours while 66,399 cases were discharged from care. Doubling time has been diluted to 86.3 days and the country will soon cross the figure of 10 crore cumulative tests.” On the management of COVID in Gujarat, he noted, “From being one of the top affected states earlier, the state has shown remarkable stride to have a recovery rate of 90.57% comparable to the recovery rate of India (88.26%).” 

India can check pandemic by Feb-end: Expert panel

The number of active, symptomatic Covid-19 cases in India has already peaked at around 10 lakh on September 17, a government expert committee’s report said on Sunday. The cumulative total cases may reach 1.06 crore, with negligible growth by the end of February, thereby signalling a consistent downturn, the panel, appointed by the ministry of science and technology and comprising scientists from IITs, IISc Bengaluru, ISI Kolkata and CMC Vellore, added. This means the pandemic can be controlled by early next year with “minimal active symptomatic infections” in February 2021.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Global COVID-19 Cases Top 40 Million

Global cases topped 40 million as infections accelerated across Europe and the U.S. Midwest. It took six months for the worldwide tally to reach the first 10 million, but subsequent milestones have come increasingly faster, with the latest 10 million added in just 32 days. Global cases reached a single day record of more than 415,000 on Friday. The U.S., India and Brazil account for more than half the cases. Millions of Europeans are facing tighter restrictions on movement, with London, Paris and Vienna enforcing stricter curbs and Ireland preparing some of the region’s toughest measures. Meanwhile Iran reported its highest number of daily deaths, with 337 fatalities. That’s fifth time in two weeks that Iran has reported a record number of deaths. The number of cases rose to 534,631 with 4,251 new infections, the Health Ministry said.

Austria Curbs Gatherings in Bid to Avoid Full Lockdown

Austria is limiting gatherings to 6 indoors and 12 outdoors and tightening rules for events such as soccer matches, theatre performances and Christmas markets to try a second lockdown, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday following a meeting with the country’s 9 provinces. The gathering limit applies from Friday to everything “from restaurants to yoga classes," Kurz said. Provinces can go beyond the national rules where necessary.

Moscow Resists Lockdown as Cases Soar

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin resisted returning to a lockdown even as he warned the city is on track to filling its 15,000 beds devoted to treating Covid-19.

A curfew, banning movement around the city or closing most businesses would be “absolutely unacceptable and impossible," Sobyanin wrote on his blog Monday. The mayor’s stance mirrors the Russian government, which has shied away from harsh restrictions during the pandemic’s second wave despite record numbers of new cases.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Mumbai Metro resumes Services 

Mumbai Metro resumed its services after being shut for nearly seven months.  The Monorail Service has also begun.  However, trains are running with a limited number of passengers to maintain social distancing and the number of services have been limited in the initial phase. The metro trains are plying on the entire route of the Ghatkopar-Versova line from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm. Only 360 people are allowed on the metro train per service as against 1,350 people earlier and only 200 services of trains will run as against 400 services earlier. Health check-up kiosks have been set-up at all Entry points. Wearing of mask is mandatory while travelling.

Gujarat Considers opening of Schools 

 Gujarat: Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Monday said his department will seek everyone's opinion before taking a final decision on reopening schools in the state. Talking to reporters in Gandhinagar, Chudasama indicated that schools cannot remain shut forever. Schools and colleges have been closed in the state since the outbreak of COVID-19. Many educational institutions are conducting online classes and exams to continue with the academic session.

 39 more deaths in Chhattisgarh

 With 1,894 new COVID-19 cases and 39 more deaths, Chhattisgarh's count rose to 1,60,396 and toll to 1,478 on Sunday. The number of recovered patients increased to 1,32,168 after 305 people were discharged from various hospitals while 1,772 others completed their home isolation during the day. The state now has 26,750 active cases.

COVID-19 cases in Goa crosses 40,000

The coronavirus infection count in Goa reached 40,587 on Sunday with the addition of 187 cases. The death toll in the state mounted to 544 after six patients succumbed to the infection. As 360 patients were discharged during the day, the recovery count of the coastal state climbed to 36,395. There are 3,648 active COVID-19 cases in the state at present.

Kerala to scale up Testing 

With Covid-19 cases continuing to be on the higher side, the State’s high-level expert committee has recommended the health department to scale up the daily testing to 1 lakh. The panel has also urged the government to replace the new software which was responsible for the recent slide in testing and go back to the old system. A total of 7,631 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the state yesterday. 95,200 patients are now undergoing treatment and 2.80 lakh people under observation. The present death toll is 1161.

Industry Updates

Zydus Cadila gets tentative USFDA nod for generic drug

Drug firm Zydus Cadila on Monday said it has received tentative approval from the US health regulator to market Tofacitinib extended-release tablets, used to treat ulcerative colitis, in the American market. The company has received tentative approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for the product which is the generic version of Pfizer's Xeljanz XR tablets, Zydus Cadila said in a statement.The medication is recommended for the once-daily treatment of adult patients with moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis (UC). 

Oxford’s vaccine to be available in Indian market by March, Bharat Biotech to develop an intranasal vaccine

Scientists are still looking for a cure for the deadly coronavirus, which has infected millions of people around the world. There are over 100 potential vaccine candidates being tested on volunteers. In India, three vaccines are in advance trials. India — the second most affected COVID-19 country globally — is likely to get Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine in December. But, it will take another three months to launch it in the market. The Serum Institute of India says Oxford-AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by December and available in market by March 2021 after procuring a license.  Meanwhile, Serum Institute has proposed the Drug Controller General of India to broaden the norms of clinical trials by including people with different conditions from all ages.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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