The Niti Aayog has said the authority is mulling over how to make the two vaccines undergoing Phase I and II trials in India available to those in need. “The government will leave no stone unturned to ensure people of India and the international community have access to Indian vaccines as early as possible. Every possible facilitation will ensure scientific and ethical conduct to arrive at an affordable option,” Member (Health), Niti Aayog, Dr VK Paul said.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, OSD at the Ministry of Health Rajesh Bhushan said India’s COVID case fatality rate had dropped to 2.43% due to effective clinical management. “India’s deaths per million population stand at 20.4, while the global average is 77,” Bhushan said.
The ministry said 19 states and union territories were performing more than 140 COVID tests a day per million population. These states and union territories have positivity rates lower than the Indian average. “Aggressive testing is necessary to bring down the positivity rate. The aim is to maintain this level of testing so as to bring the positivity rate down to less than 5%,” Bhushan said.
India has so far reported over 11.5 lakh COVID-19 cases, with 37,148 additional cases of the disease and 587 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. There are in all more than 4 lakh people undergoing treatment for COVID as of now while 7.2 lakh have recovered. This is the data the Union Ministry of Health published today. India’s per day caseload has been rising steadily, with today marking the sixth consecutive day of over 30,000 cases.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), recognised facilities have tested a total of 1,43,81,303 samples till 20 July. Yesterday, they had tested 3,33,395 samples.
The government indicates that the country is in an advantageous position for two reasons. First, one of the leading vaccine makers of the country has made it to the list of manufacturers for Oxford University’s vaccine candidate. It has shown encouraging results in stage two of human trials. Second, two indigenous vaccines are not far behind in the race to produce a credible product.
“Two COVID-19 vaccines of India are in phase 1 and 2 of trials. They are also progressing in this journey. Discussions have already begun how the vaccines will be made available to all those who need it. We will not leave any stone unturned,” Dr Paul said.
Before vaccines arrive
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has confirmed over 70% of the deaths in India have occurred due to co-morbidities.
Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh present the worst-case scenarios, contributing to the pandemic.
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria says data from New Delhi suggests the COVID curve is flattening. He says the city “may have crossed the peak”. Guleria, who is part of the core team monitoring the pandemic in India warned, however, that we cannot let our guard down.
“If you look at the data from Delhi, it does suggest that we seem to have flattened the curve and, maybe, are showing a downward trend. So, it is possible that we have crossed the peak as far as Delhi is concerned. But, considering the trend in other cities and even in the US, having crossed the peak doesn’t mean that you can let your guard down. We still need to be very careful. If you start decreasing social distancing and mask-wearing, there can be a resurgence of cases and you may have another spike,” Guleria said to The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the results of the serological survey have shown 23.48% of the people surveyed developed IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies. This indicated they had been exposed to the coronavirus. The study indicated further that a large number of infected persons were asymptomatic.
Can’t manufacturers of other vaccines be on the forefront?
India is the third worst-affected country, with its COVID-19 tally reaching 11,55,191.
India is among the biggest manufacturers of generic medicines and vaccines. Many Indian companies are engaged in making vaccines for various diseases like polio, meningitis, rotavirus, measles etc.
N-95 masks with valved respirators do not prevent COVID
The union government has written to the states and union territories that N-95 masks with valved respirators may not prevent the coronavirus from spreading. The Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) in the Health Ministry has observed a largely “inappropriate use” of such masks by the people.
“It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask. In view of the above, I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N-95 masks,” DGHS Rajiv Garg said in the letter.
COVID in Chennai
Chennai is controlling the spread of COVID-19 with aggressive and focused testing, corporation officials said. They have been able to identify positive cases at an early stage with the help of door-to-door surveillance and fever camps.
Citing an example, a senior corporation official said, “There used to be a time when Royapuram and Tondiarpet used to have 200 cases per day; now we are getting maximum 50-80 cases a day.”
As of today, Chennai has 87,235 positive cases of COVID, which is 50% of the total cases in Tamil Nadu.
Recovery rate improves in Telangana
Telangana’s recovery rate has improved to 72%, The death rate in the state is less than 1%cent, shows government data. As of yesterday, 32,438 patients of the 45,076 cases in the state had recovered. As many as 409 had succumbed to the disease.
In other news from the state, two volunteers agreed to take the first dose of vaccine Covaxin at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS). City-based Bharat Biotech has developed the vaccines that are currently in the trials phase. “They are both stable and all their vitals are fine. We will keep them under observation for 48 hours after which they will be discharged,” said Dr G Srinivas of NIMS.