COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Serum Institute puts India trials of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine on hold

Serum Institute of India has put trials of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine candidate on hold until the British drug maker restarts the trials, Serum said on Thursday. "We are reviewing the situation and pausing India trials," Serum said in a brief statement. AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it had paused trials of its experimental corona virus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in a study participant, but its partner Serum had at the time said its trials in India were still ongoing. Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), central drug regulator, has expressed concerns over vaccine trials being done by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and has sought an explanation on non-reporting of serious adverse events that led its UK partner  AstraZeneca to “temporarily pause” global clinical trials of the Oxford Covid vaccine candidate. The vaccine  was being tested at 17 sites within the country.  Late on Wednesday, the SII said that the show-cause notice was issued following reports that human trials of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate have been put on hold after a UK participant had an adverse reaction to it. 

India’s 60% Total Cases in 5 Most Affected States

A total of 95,735 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country. 60% of the total cases are reported from only five States. Maharashtra has alone contributed more than 23,000 and Andhra Pradesh has contributed more than 10,000. The total number of active cases in the country stands at 9, 19,018, as on date. More than 74% of the Total Active Cases are in 9 most affected States. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh presently contribute 49% of total active cases. Maharashtra is leading this tally with more than 2, 50,000 whereas Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh follow with more than 97,000 each. A total of 1,172 deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours. 32% of deaths reported yesterday are from Maharashtra with 380 deaths followed by Karnataka with 128 deaths, and Tamil Nadu with 78 deaths. Of the total deaths, 69% are concentrated in five States/UT of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.

Health Ministry urges States/UTs to Mandatorily retest all Symptomatic Negative Cases of Rapid Antigen Tests through RT-PCR

Union Health Ministry has noted that in some large States, symptomatic negative cases tested by Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are not being followed up by RT-PCT testing. The Guidelines of ICMR as well as the Union Health Ministry clearly state that the following two specific categories of persons must necessarily be retested through RT-PCR tests:  All symptomatic (fever or cough or breathlessness) negative cases of RAT and Asymptomatic negative cases of RAT that develop symptoms within 2 to 3 days of being tested negative. In this background, the Union Health Ministry and ICMR have jointly written to all the States/UTs and urged them to ensure that the all symptomatic negative cases of RAT are mandatorily retested using the RT-PCR test. This is necessary to ensure that such symptomatic negative cases do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts. It has also been reiterated in the joint letter that while the RAT is being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remains the gold standard of COVID tests. The Union Health Ministry has also urged the States/UTs to urgently establish a monitoring mechanism in every district (a designated officer or a team) and at the State level to follow up such cases. They have also been advised to undertake an analysis on a regular basis to monitor the incidence of positives during the RT-PCR tests conducted as a follow up.

73rd session of WHO South East Asia Region-Dr. Harsh Vardhan addresses the Ministerial Round Table Session on COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare attended the73rd session of WHO South East Asia Region through video conference, here today. Representing India, Dr. Harsh Vardhan offered two interventions in the ministerial round table session on COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness. He first spoke on the three important interventions that were applied to manage COVID – 19 and maintain essential non – COVID health services in India. He later expounded on the strategies that are being applied to ensure that there are increased investments in health and health emergency preparedness and response as well as in International Health Regulation core capacities to prevent future pandemics, in the second round of interventions. Speaking on India’s public health measures to prevent and contain spread of SARS nCoV - 2 since January 2020, he outlined the measures undertaken by the Government of India.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Don't take corona virus lightly; people need to wear face masks: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged people not to take corona virus lightly and follow the rule of wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing till scientists develop a vaccine. "I have certain expectations from you. That is to follow the rule of wearing a mask and Do Gaj ki Doori (a distance of two yards). "Be safe and remain healthy. Take care of senior citizens in the family. These things are important. Do not take corona virus lightly," Modi said. Modi also said, till scientists develop a vaccine for Covid-19, "this social vaccine is the best way to save ourselves from corona virus. This is the only solution."

India putting up well-planned fight against corona virus: Amit Shah

Terming corona virus as an unprecedented challenge, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said India is putting up a well-planned fight against the pandemic under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership. The BJP leader asked people to take necessary precautions until a vaccine are found. "Corona virus is an unprecedented challenge for us and for the entire mankind. But we are fighting against it in a well-planned manner under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the whole world has recognised our efforts," he said.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Countries in WHO South-East Asia sign declaration to fight collectively 

All Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region on Thursday resolved to collectively fight COVID-19 and strengthen the Region’s response with better equipped health systems to deliver essential health services during the pandemic. “The spread of COVID-19 has impacted almost every community, overwhelmed health systems and disrupted economies and livelihoods with effects reaching far beyond the health sector. It has also disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable. “At the top of the agenda is maintaining essential health services,”  said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

India supported us with essential medicines:  French Defence Minister

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday that India supported her country by sending essential medicines during the peak of Covid-19 crisis in the European nation. Speaking at a press briefing along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the French Minister said her country in the response sent medical equipment for patients in intensive care to India. "Recently, our two countries showed solidarity in the management of the health crisis. At peak of Covid-19 in France, India supported us by sending essential medicines. On our side, we recently sent to India medical equipment for patients in intensive care," she said.

UK PM confirms law banning large gatherings as Covid-19 cases rise

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced tougher new restrictions on social gatherings of more than six people in England starting next Monday, as the number of corona virus cases rise in the country. A law change to be introduced will ban larger groups of friends and family meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, to be enforced through a 100 pounds fine if people fail to comply and doubling on each offence up to a maximum of 3,200 pounds. "In England from Monday we're introducing the rule of six. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six. Anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly affected," Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday evening.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Yogi asks officials to focus on districts reporting high Covid-19 cases

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday directed officials to focus more on Lucknow, Prayagraj, Kanpur and Gorakhpur as these districts are reporting a higher number of Covid-19 cases. He also asked them to ensure all Covid-19 hospitals have full staff. "All Covid-19 hospitals should function with full capacity and where ever needed, manpower should be increased. Specialist doctors should be appointed in L2 (Level-2) Covid hospitals and it should be ensured that serious patients do not have any problem in admission in these hospitals," Adityanath said.

Number of containment zones in Delhi rises to 1,272

Amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, the number of containment zones in the national capital has gone up to over 1,200, with the maximum 234 in southwest Delhi and the lowest 29 in northeast Delhi, according to government data. There are 1,272 containment zones in Delhi as on Thursday, according to information available on the revenue department's website. Of the 11 districts in the city, six have more than 100 containment zones southwest Delhi (234), west Delhi (169), north Delhi (148), south Delhi (145), central Delhi (120), and east Delhi (104). Northeast Delhi has just 29 containment zones, the lowest in the city, followed by southeast Delhi (73), Shahdara (74), northwest Delhi (82) and New Delhi (94).

J&K reports 1,592 fresh cases, 13 deaths; tally nears 50,000

Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday recorded 1,592 new Covid-19 cases which took the union territory's tally to 49,134, while 13 more people succumbed to the disease, pushing its toll to 845, officials said. This is the eighth time in as many days that the number of fresh cases in Jammu and Kashmir has crossed the 1,000-mark in a 24-hour period. Thirteen more people died in the union territory in the 24 hours till 5 PM on Wednesday. Eight of these deaths were reported from Jammu and five from the Kashmir Valley. 

Andhra's corona virus tally touches 537,000 with 10,175 new cases

The number of deaths due to corona virus in Andhra Pradesh has been showing a declining trend over the past few days though the positive cases were increasing by over 10,000 daily, government data revealed. The Covid-19 tally increased to 537,000 in AP with the addition of 10,175 cases in 24 hours ending 9 am on Thursday, the latest bulletin said. Also, 10,040 patients got cured and discharged while 68 succumbed in 24 hours, the bulletin said. From over 90 a day till a few days ago, the state's Covid-19 mortality count has been just around 70 per day this week and on Thursday it further fell to 68. 

 Industry Updates

AstraZeneca CEO Says COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Ready By End of Year 

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Wednesday expressed hopes that a vaccine against the novel corona virus developed by the pharmaceutical company would be ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021, despite having to pause clinical trials. "We could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year," Soriot said at an event hosted by the Tortoise media group newspaper.

Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic Maharishi Ayurveda Launches AyurDefence-AV

One of the pioneering Science-based Ayurvedic company — Maharishi Ayurveda today announced the expansion of its Ayurvedic Healthcare portfolio with the launch of its 100% Ayurvedic product AyurDefence-AV amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This is completely a herbal product made up of the combination of 19 herbs, possessing functional attributes of turning out to be the armour against viral infection & seasonal flu. It has the property to enhance the body's innate intelligence, which works synergistically for more vitality, inner strength, stability and balance to strengthen immunity.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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