COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

India continues to post very high Recoveries

India continues to post very high number of daily recoveries. The continuous upward trajectory of India’s Recovery Rate has touched 78.28% today. 79,292 have recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours. The total recovered cases stand at 38, 59,399. The gap between Recovered cases and Active cases has crossed 28 lakh today (28, 69,338). The total number of active cases in the country stands at 9, 90,061. Close to half (48.8%) of the Active Cases are concentrated in 3 States: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Kerala and Telangana   contribute close to a quarter (24.4%) of the Active Cases. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu contribute 60.35% of the total Active Cases and are also reporting close to 60% (59.42%) of the total recovered cases.1, 054 case fatalities have been reported in the past 24 hours. Of the total deaths, nearly 69% are concentrated in five State/UTs of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. More than 37% of deaths reported are from Maharashtra (29,894 deaths).The State reported 34.44% of the deaths in the last 24 hours (363 deaths).

New Healthcare Scheme for Covid-19 Victims

There is provision made under ‘Pradhan Mantri GaribKalyan Package’ for Health Workers fighting COVID-19. This is a Central Sector scheme. The scheme provides an insurance cover of Rs. 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and who may be at risk of being impacted by this. It will also include accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19. The scheme also covers private hospital staff/ retired/volunteer/ local urban bodies/contract/daily wage/ ad-hoc/outsourced staff requisitioned by States/ Central hospitals/autonomous hospitals of Central/States/UTs, AIIMS & INIs/ hospitals of Central Ministries drafted for COVID-19 related responsibilities. The insurance provided under this scheme would be over and above any other insurance cover being availed of by the beneficiary. The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

Increase in Mental Health issues during the Pandemic

Realizing the impact that COVID-19 may have on the mental health of the people, including children, the Government has taken a number of initiatives to provide psychosocial support during COVID-19. These initiatives include: Setting up of a 24/7 helpline to provide psychosocial support, by mental health professionals, to the entire affected population, divided into different target groups viz children, adult, elderly, women and healthcare workers, issuance of guidelines/ advisories on management of mental health issues, catering to different segments of the society, advocacy through various media platforms in the form of creative and audio-visual materials on managing stress and anxiety, and promoting an environment of support and care for all, Issuance of detailed guidelines by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru- "Mental Health in the times of COVID-19 Pandemic - Guidance for General Medical and Specialized Mental Health Care Settings’and online capacity building of health workers by NIMHANS in providing psychosocial support and training through (iGOT)-Diksha platform. The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha

Union Health Ministry has introduced Assisted Reproductive Technology-ART (Regulation) Bill in Lok Sabha on the very first day of Monsoon Session, highlighting the critical role of the proposed legislation. The ART Bill proposes to make it mandatory for all fertility clinics and banks in India to register them-selves with a national registering authority and periodically report all procedures undertaken. It has also laid down strict age bar for men and women who can avail themselves of assisted reproductive technology services. The Bill proposes that that the ART can be availed of by any woman above marriageable age but less than 50 years and any man above marriageable age but less than 55 years. Several leading experts and fertility sector bodies had recommended that the government should ban ART above 45 years of age for women. The Ministry was also in support of that and had said that it is not advisable at an advanced age. Only married women with a child of three years can be an egg donor and can do it only once in her lifetime.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

Serum Institute to start phase-III vaccine trial, says ICMR

ICMR Director General Dr. Balram Bhargava today said three vaccines are at the clinical trial stage in India. "Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trials. Serum Institute has completed phase II-B3 trials and will start phase-III trial (with 1,500 patients at 14 locations) after clearances," he said. "Plasma therapy has been used for more than 100 years now in some form or the other for various virus infections. It is being used in COVID-19. Whether it helps or not is being studied." The Ministry of Health today said Maharashtra tops the daily average deaths in top five states in the country as the corona virus cases continue to rise. "There are 14 states and UTs where the total number of active cases is less than 5,000. There are 18 states and UTs where total active cases are between 5,000-50, 000," said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary in the Union Health Ministry.

Strategic Approach to Combat Covid-19

India would be following a scenario based approach for the following possible scenarios: (i) Travel related case reported in India, (ii) Local transmission of COVID-19, (iii) Large outbreaks amenable to containment, (iv) Wide-spread community Transmission of COVID-19 disease and (v) India become endemic for COVID-19. Currently many areas are experiencing large outbreaks amenable to containment. Hence a containment strategy is being followed by Government of India. Government has succeeded to a great extent in controlling the aggressive progression of COVID-19 in the country. India has recorded 3,328 cases and 55 deaths per million populations, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India followed a graded approach for expanding COVID-19 dedicated hospital infrastructure. Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare) Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

 Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

WHO praises AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial pause

A World Health Organization official on Tuesday said that the decision by AstraZeneca to pause global trials of its experimental corona virus vaccine after an unexplained illness showed the firm was prioritising safety. "This is what we want to see with trials, it is a well-run trial. Safety is always critical, it is crucial and they have looked at that in an appropriate manner," Margaret Harris told journalists in Geneva. Asked to react to experimental Covid-19 vaccine use in China and Russia, she said: "The WHO would like to see vaccines go head to head so we can have clear information and to see these results against each other."

India's role in production of Covid-19 vaccine critical: Bill Gates

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said India's willingness to play a "big role" in manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine and allow it to supply to other developing countries will be a critical part in containing the pandemic globally. In an exclusive interview, Gates, whose foundation is focusing on fighting the pandemic, called it the "next biggest thing" the world has been confronted with after the World War. The Microsoft co-founder said the world is looking to India for large scale production of Covid-19 vaccine once it is rolled out.

UN urges global community to assist WHO's fight against Covid-19

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the global community to support the UN system, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in particular, in its effort against the corona virus pandemic. This summer, the United States formally notified Guterres of its intention to withdraw from the WHO in July 2021, after repeatedly criticising the organisation's pandemic response. Earlier in September, the US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus expressed the belief that the WHO "failed badly" not only regarding the corona virus but in its response to other health crises in recent decades. 

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Delhi sero-survey in August finds no antibodies in 30% of recovered patients

A sero-prevalance survey conducted in the first week of August in Delhi has found that 79 of the 257 people who recovered from Covid-19 did not have antibodies against the virus. About 15,000 representative samples were taken in the August 1-7 survey from 11 districts and tested for antibodies (IgG) against the virus. Blood samples of 257 people who had tested Covid-19 positive earlier and then recovered, were also taken during the survey to test if they had antibodies. Seventy-nine of these people did not have the antibodies against the virus, according to its report of the August serological survey.

UP records highest 113 fresh corona virus deaths

Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday recorded the highest single-day spike in Covid-19 deaths with 113 people succumbing to the infection in the last 24 hours, raising the total fatalities due to it to 4,604, said officials. The number of people testing positive for the infection on Tuesday stood at 6,895, taking the overall figure 3, 24,036, they said. "The count of active COVID-19 cases in the state stands at 67,335 while 2, 52,097 people have recovered till date. The death figure in the state has reached 4, 604," Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters here.

Rajasthan reports 799 fresh Covid-19 cases, 7 more deaths

Rajasthan recorded 799 fresh Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the state's tally to 1, 04,937, while seven more fatalities pushed the toll to 1,257, according to a health department bulletin. Of the total cases, 17,468 people are under treatment. So far, 84,688 people have been discharged after recovery, the bulletin said. Jaipur has reported the maximum number of deaths so far at 302, followed by 123 in Jodhpur, 96 in Bikaner, 88 each in Kota and Ajmer and 73 in Bharatpur.

Industry Updates

Germany boosts own vaccine makers in race for Covid-19 jab

Germany says it is providing up to 750 million euros ($892 million) to support three domestic pharmaceutical companies that are developing vaccines against the new corona virus. Science Minister Anja Karliczek said Tuesday that the government has already agreed to provide BioNTech and CureVac with 375 million euros and 230-million euros respectively to develop their mRNA-based vaccines. Talks with a third company, IDT Biologika, are expected to conclude soon, she said. The company is developing a vector-based vaccine that delivers a corona virus protein into cells to stimulate the body's immune response. The agreement with the three companies, which is tied to specific milestones, would guarantee Germany 40 million doses of vaccine. The amount comes on top of other vaccine supply agreements concluded through the European Union, of which Germany is a member.

Status of Development of COVID Vaccine in India

While the Govt. and Industry are trying their best to make available a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 at the earliest, it is difficult to comment on the exact timelines in view of various complex pathways involved in vaccine development. The Government has constituted a high-level National Expert Group on vaccine administration for COVID-19. The committee is addressing issues related to vaccine delivery, selection of suitable vaccines, procurement, prioritization of groups, logistics: Cold chain requirements, finance and National/International equity. Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has granted test license permission for manufacture of COVID-19 Vaccine for preclinical test, examination and analysis to seven manufacturers in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an autonomous organization under the Department of Health Research, has informed that a number of companies are conducting clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines in India.  Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare)  Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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