COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India’s Total Recoveries continue to rise, cross 32.5 lakh today

India’s total recovered cases have crossed 32.5 lakh today, with 69,564 patients being discharged in the last 24 hours. This has resulted in the Recovery Rate touching 77.31%. Case Fatality Rate has declined which stands at a new low of 1.70% today. Five States are contributing 60% of total cases with Maharashtra at the top with 21.6%, followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.8%), Tamil Nadu (11.0%), Karnataka (9.5%) and Uttar Pradesh at 6.3%. Maharashtra also contributed 26.76% of the active cases in the country, followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.30%), Karnataka (11.25%), Uttar Pradesh (6.98%) and Tamil Nadu (5.83%). These 5 States presently contribute 62% of total active cases. The total number of recoveries stands more than 32.5 lakh (32, 50,429) today. In the last 24 hours, Andhra Pradesh recorded the highest recoveries with 11,915 newly recovered cases. Karnataka and Maharashtra saw 9575 and 7826 recoveries while Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh witnesses 5820 and 4779 new recoveries, respectively. These 5 States together contributed 57% of the recoveries in the last 24 hours.

Health Ministry rushes Central teams to Punjab and Chandigarh 

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has decided to deploy Central teams to Punjab and UT of Chandigarh. The high level teams will assist the State/UT in strengthening public health measures for containment, surveillance, testing and efficient clinical management of COVID patients with the aim to reduce mortality and save lives. They shall also guide the State/UT in effectively addressing the challenges related to timely diagnosis and follow up. The two-member teams will comprise of a Community Medicine expert from PGIMER, Chandigarh and an epidemiologist from NCDC. These teams shall be stationed in the State/UT for ten days to provide extended guidance in managing COVID. Punjab has reported a total of 60,013 cases, whereas it has 15,731Active Cases, on date. It has registered 1739 deaths. The Testing per Million figure for the State is 37546 (India’s average figure is 34593.1 at present). With 4.97%, it hovers at the lower spectrum of cumulative positivity. The UT of Chandigarh is reporting 2095 active cases whereas its cumulative cases stand at 5268. 

Critical care preparedness in India needs a booster shot : Experts

With the anticipated increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in India, there is a need for a coordinated effort by public health organizations and the professional societies to ensure adequate delivery of intensive care to critically ill COVID-19 patients, according to experts. In a paper entitled “Challenges in the delivery of critical care in India during the COVID-19 pandemic” published in The Journal of Intensive Care Society recently, the experts highlighted the unprecedented demand that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the healthcare system with the consequent need to boost critical care preparedness in the country. “With a population exceeding 1.3 billion and the majority living in rural and remote regions, critical care and public health capacity in India face enormous pressure,” said Dr. Bharath Kumar, honorary research fellow, The George Institute India and one of the main authors of the paper. “Even if less than 5% of patients require critical care services, this will still rapidly overwhelm the healthcare system in a country, where intensive care services and resources are scarce and unevenly distributed,” he added.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Union Health Secretary engages with Health Secretaries of 6 States/UT 

Union Health Secretary held a review meeting through video conference with the Health Secretaries of 5 States and 1 UT on the containment and management of COVID in 35 districts under their jurisdiction. These 35 districts comprise Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and 24 South Parganas in West Bengal; Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Kolhapur, Sangli, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Raigad, Jalgaon, Solapur, Satara, Palghar, Aurangabad, Dhule and Nanded in Maharashtra; Surat in Gujarat; Pondicherry in Puducherry; East Singhbhum in Jharkhand; and all 11 districts in Delhi. Addressing the participants, the Union Secretary underscored the need to suppress, curb and eventually break the chain of transmission of the infectious disease by strengthening the active case search focusing on the co-morbids and elderly population; revisiting and strengthening the containment measures in the affected areas; and scaling up the testing to decrease the positivity rates below 5%. The State Health Secretaries presented a detailed analysis on the current status of Covid-19 in these districts. The States/UT were advised to take steps on specific areas e.g. limiting the spread of the infection by implementing stringent containment measures and following social distancing measures, strict perimeter control, and active house-to-house case search, early identification by ramping up testing across the districts, optional utilization of RT-PCR testing capacity etc.

IIIM devises novel Covid-19 test kit for rapid diagnosis of infection, seeks ICMR nod for it

Jammu-based CSIR-IIIM has devised a novel, simpler and cost-effective diagnostic kit for rapid testing of large numbers of suspected Corona virus-infected people and has approached ICMR for its evaluation and approval, IIIM director said on Sunday. The new Reverse Transcriptase-Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) assay-based Covid-19 diagnostic kit has been developed as an alternative to the standard quantitative PCR (qPCR) after reverse transcription (RT) method, which is very sensitive but requires expensive instrumentation, IIIM Director, Dr. D Srinivasa Reddy told media. The new RT-LAMP assay-based kit has been developed by CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine in partnership with the Reliance Industries, "We have developed an RT-LAMP assay-based diagnostic kit. Our lab and Reliance Industries Limited have together developed this kit," he said. 

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

WHO won't endorse COVID-19 vaccine unless it is effective and safe says Tedros Ghebreyesus 

The head of the World Health Organization said the UN health agency will not recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it is proved safe and effective, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before large studies have finished and other countries have proposed streamlining authorization procedures. At a press briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccines have been used successfully for decades and credited them with eradicating smallpox and bringing polio to the brink of being eliminated. “I would like to assure the public that WHO will not endorse a vaccine that’s not effective and safe,” Tedros said. He said newly developed Ebola vaccines helped end the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo, noting that stopping the deadly virus was complicated by the dozens of armed groups operating in the region. Tedros appealed to people opposed to vaccination to do their own research.

Australia expects to receive AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine within months

Australia expects to receive its first batches of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as the number of new daily infections in the country’s virus hotspot fell to a 10-week low. Morrison said his government has struck a deal with CSL Ltd to manufacture two vaccines – one developed by rival AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and another developed in CSL’s own labs with the University of Queensland. Morrison said Australia will in January and February 2021 receive 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is currently undergoing late-stage clinical trials in Britain, Brazil and South Africa, in January and February last year. AstraZeneca’s candidate, AZD1222, is viewed as a frontrunner in a global race to deliver an effective vaccine to combat the virus. Australia had announced in August that it planned to buy AZD1222, along with an agreement of intent from CSL to manufacture it. 

Global corona virus update: Cases surpass 27 million, says Johns Hopkins

The overall number of global corona virus cases has surpassed the 27 million mark, while the deaths have increased to over 882,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University. As of Monday morning, the total number of cases stood at 27,002,224 and the fatalities rose to 882,053, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update. The US accounted for the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 6,275,614 and 188,932 respectively, according to the CSSE. Brazil came in the second place with 4,137,521 infections and 126,650 deaths.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Uttar Pradesh establishes Integrated COVID Control & Command Centre, and a Unified State COVID Portal

The government of Uttar Pradesh has taken various initiatives in this direction. On 18th July 2020, the UP government established the Integrated COVID Control & Command Centres (ICCCC) in all districts as well as the State headquarter with representation of all relevant departments to address the rising number of positive cases. These centres are primarily for ensuring effective coordination among relevant departments for Non Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs). They also facilitate prompt referral of COVID-19 patients to the appropriate level of dedicated COVID facilities. The Command centres coordinate with zonal units to ensure prompt testing of symptomatic patients and contacts, intimation of laboratory status, facilitation of transport and facility allocation in case of admission, and regular follow up of cases under home isolation. Uttar Pradesh has also developed a Unified State COVID Portal: which captures all information related to surveillance, testing and treatment of COVID patients. This portal has also benefitted through interoperability with the Govt. of India portal. The State Government has also procured 1000 High Flow Nasal Canola (HFNCs) from the State funds. 500 of these have been installed and are being utilized for non-invasive management of patients in the State.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands Covid-19 Tally Rises to 3,332

The Covid-19 caseload in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands rose to 3,332, with 40 new corona virus cases detected in the union territory, an official said today. Of the 40 new cases, 38 were detected during local contact tracing and two were airport arrivals, the official said. All passengers coming from the mainland have to mandatorily undergo rapid antigen test for Covid-19 at the airport here on arrival, he said. 

8,368 New Covid-19 Cases in Andhra Pradesh

According to State Covid-19 nodal officer, 8,368 new Covid-19 positive cases and 70 deaths reported in Andhra Pradesh today. The total number of cases is now at 5, 06,493 including 97,932 active cases, 4, 04,074 recoveries and 4,487 deaths.

Industry Updates

Covid-hit India mulls a shot at Sputnik V

As Covid-19 cases continue to mount in India, Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev has said Moscow is talking to the Indian government “on different levels” about cooperation that could include “supplies, co-development and co-production” of Sputnik V vaccine. The Russians have billed Sputnik V as the first anti-Covid vaccine in the world, and according to a Lancet study, it has been found to cause no serious side effects in initial trials. Kudashev said there was a lack of goodwill and constructive approach and that this had led to chances of enhanced confrontation, arms race and global disorder.

Hamdard Labs to Start Clinical Trial of 2 Immunity Boosting Drugs for Covid-19

Health and wellness firm Hamdard Laboratories today said it is going to start clinical trial of its two immunity boosting medicines to assess their effectiveness in preventing Covid-19 infection. The company has received all the regulatory approvals to begin the proof of concept clinical trial for its Infuza and Kulzam drugs, Hamdard Laboratories said in a statement. A research team from Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (HIMSR) is going to start the clinical trial at HAH Centenary Hospital in New Delhi, it added.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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