COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Centre exhorts the States to proactively curb the Chain of Transmission 

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with the Health Secretaries of 15 districts across 5Statesof Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh today. These 15 districts comprise Chittoor, Prakasam, Mysuru, Bengaluru Urban, Ballari, Koppal, Dakshina Kannada, Davangere, Ludhiana, Patiala, Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem, Lucknow and Kanpur Nagar. They have been exhibiting higher active caseload, fatality rates and a surge in the COVID cases for the past four weeks. The Union Secretary shared the overall status and performance of the districts on the key parameters of testing, positivity, case fatality etc., focusing on the need of continuing containment measures, increasing testing, and effective clinical management of patients. State Health Secretaries shared their detailed roadmaps and action plans for the next one month.

The States were advised to take steps on the following specific areas:

Limiting and eventually breaking the spread of the infection by implementing stringent containment measures and following social distancing measures, strict peri-meter control, and active house-to-house case search

Early identification by ramping up testing across the districts, optional utilization of RT-PCR testing capacity and use of Rapid Antigen Tests 

Effective monitoring of home isolation cases and early hospitalization in case of disease progression.

Seamless hospitalization and early admission for patients requiring medical support, especially in cases of co-morbid and elderly population

With higher number of patients getting cured, India’s total Recoveries surpass 30 lakh

Not only is India’s Case Fatality Rate lower than the global average and progressively declining (current figure is 1.74%), but a very small proportion of the active cases, amounting to less than 0.5%, are on ventilator support. Data also shows that 2% cases are in ICUs and less than 3.5% of the active cases occupy oxygen supported beds. As a result of these measures, India's total COVID-19 recoveries have crossed 30 lakh (30, 37,151) today. With the recovery of 66,659 in the last 24 hours, India has continued its trajectory of posting more than 60000 recoveries for the 8th consecutive day. The Recovery Rate amongst the COVID-19 patients is 77.15%. The higher number of recoveries has also led to a steady enhancement in the difference between the recovered and active ones. This difference has crossed 22 lakh, as on date. This ensured that the actual caseload of the country viz. the active cases (8, 31,124 which are under active medical care), has reduced and currently comprises only 21.11% of the total positive cases.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

'Humane' side of police came to fore during COVID-19 pandemic: PM

Prime Minister NarendraModi interacted, through video-conference, with IPS Probationers during the ‘Dikshant Parade Event’ at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy today. Speaking on the occasion, the PM said he regularly interacts with young IPS officers who have passed out from the academy, but this year due to corona virus he was unable to meet them. “But I’m sure that during my tenure, I will surely meet you all at some point,” he added. The PM wished the IPS probationers for completing their training with success. He said it is very important that the probationers should be proud of their uniform instead of flexing power out of it. “Never lose the respect for your Khaki uniform. The human face of the Khaki uniform has been engraved in the public memory due to the good work done by police especially during this Covid-19,” he said. The Prime Minister appreciated that the 'Humane' side of police came to fore during COVID-19 pandemic.

India continues to scale new peaks in COVID-19 tests

After having successfully achieved the goal of enhancing the daily testing capacity to more than 10 lakhs daily tests, India has scaled new peaks in COVID-19 testing for the last two successive days. For these two successive days, more than 11.70 lakh samples have been tested across the country. 11, 69,765 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. No other country has achieved these levels of very high daily testing. With this steep exponential rise in daily testing, the cumulative tests are nearing 4.7 crore. The cumulative tests as on date have reached 4, 66, 79,145. Even with this very high daily testing, the daily Positivity Rate is still below 7.5%, while cumulative Positivity Rate is less than 8.5%. With the aim to reduce the fatality rate below 1%, India’s Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has touched 1.74% following a gradient of steady and sustained decline. India’s substantial increase in the testing levels is anchored in the daily expanding diagnostic lab network across the country. As on date, with 1025 labs in the government sector and 606 private labs, the country-wide network is strengthened with 1631 total lab facilities.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

US announces next steps of its withdrawal from WHO-led Covid vaccine effort

The US will not participate in the World Health Organization-led global effort to develop a corona virus vaccine with the Trump administration on Thursday announcing next steps for its withdrawal from the multilateral body and the redirection of American resources. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is scaling down its engagement with the WHO as the latter had failed to adopt urgently needed reforms. "Today, the @real Donald Trump Administration continues to move forward with the United States' withdrawal from the @WHO," Secretary Pompeo tweeted on Thursday. "The WHO failed to adopt urgently needed reforms, starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party," he said.

Widespread Covid Vaccination Not Expected Until Middle of Next Year: WHO 

The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety. None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a "clear signal" of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said. Russia granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine in August after less than two months of human testing, prompting some Western experts to question its safety and efficacy. US public health officials and Pfizer Inc said on Thursday a vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October. That would be just ahead of the US election on Nov. 3 in which the pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term. 

 Majority of Australians with corona virus symptoms still not tested

Eighty-five per cent of Australians with cold or flu-like symptoms were yet to get tested for Covid-19, despite persistent government requests to do so even if there were minor symptoms of the virus, a survey released on Friday revealed. According to the data collected between early to mid-August, most of those people reported were reluctant to get tested because they didn't think they had corona virus or that their symptoms were too mild for a test. The survey was in the seventh wave of data collection of the Survey of Covid-19 Responses to Understand Behavior (SCRUB), conducted by Australia's Monash University in partnership with the government of Victoria State. Lead researcher Peter Slattery from the university said he was concerned with the results and urged people to take immediate action to avoid spreading the virus. 

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Andhra Govt. Sets up 'Arogya Mitras' Help Desks

Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy directed the officials to recruit 'Arogya Mitras' help desks set up at all Arogyasri hospitals across the state. The CM said that the help desk at all the Arogyasri hospitals should play a significant role in helping patients get the best treatment in the state.

Punjab to Stop Affixing Posters Outside Homes of Covid-19 Patients

Corona virus patients in home isolation in Punjab will no longer have to suffer the fear and stigma of social isolation resulting from posters affixed at the entrance of their homes. In a step towards mitigating the stigma attached to the pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh rescinded his government's earlier decision of putting posters outside the houses of Covid-19 patients under home isolation or quarantine.

Cases Were Rising Even During Lockdown: Delhi Health Min

More and more patients from outside Delhi seeking admission here is a concern. 30% of beds in Govt. hospitals and 50 to 70 per cent in private hospitals are occupied from patients outside Delhi. Even when there was lockdown, cases were rising. Point is to wear masks, even when Delhi is prepared for a surge in full Unlock mode.

Industry Updates

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine Prevents Severe Clinical Illness in Hamsters

A leading candidate of Covid-19 vaccine developed by global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) prevented the severe illness -- including weight loss, pneumonia and death in a small group of Syrian golden hamsters. The vaccine -- developed through a collaboration between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and J&J -- uses a common cold virus, called adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26), to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein into host cells, where it stimulates the body to raise immune responses against the corona virus. BIDMC immunologist Dan H Barouch and J&J developed a series of vaccine candidates designed to express different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is the major target for neutralizing antibodies. "We recently reported that an Ad26-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provided robust protection in rhesus macaques, and this vaccine is currently being evaluated in humans," said Barouch. "However, nonhuman primates typically don't get the severe clinical disease, and thus it was important to study whether this vaccine could prevent severe pneumonia and death due to SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters, which are more susceptible to clinical disease," Barouch added.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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