Delhi’s COVID cases continue to spike, SII completes phase-3 enrollment; country’s tally at 86.83 lakh

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Delhi's COVID cases continue to spike, SII completes phase-3 enrollment; country's tally at 86.83 lakh
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The health ministry highlighted that 78 percent of the new cases were from 10 states and Union Territories (UTs) with Delhi continuing to register the highest single-day infections

Delhi registered the highest number of single-day COVID-19 cases in the country as the high court expressed concern over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and questioned the AAP government’s government for “doing everything under the sun to ‘Unlock’ things”.

Over 870 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the past 15 days in the National Capital, with experts attributing it to a sudden surge in cases, deteriorating air quality, laxity by people in adhering to safety norms, among other factors.

SP Byotra, chairman, department of medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said daily cases have spiralled, so death count has also gone up simultaneously. “Plus, there are other factors such as increase in pollution level which is magnifying complications of people with respiratory illnesses, and patients coming to Delhi in very sick condition from the neighbouring states,” he said.

However, one factor that has really led this massive spike in cases and hence more deaths, is the “lax and irresponsible behaviour of a large number of people” in wearing masks or adhering to other safety norms, he added.

Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday announced the completion of enrolment of participations for the phase-3 clinical trials of potential COVID-19 vaccine Covishield in India.

The announcement came as India’s COVID-19 caseload mounted to 86,83,91 with a single-day increase of 47,905  fresh infections.

As per the Union health ministry’s morning update, the virus has so far claimed 1,28,121 lives in the country, with 550 people succumbing in the 24 hours between 8 am on Wednesday and Thursday.

However, the ministry highlighted that 78 percent of the new coronavirus infections are concentrated in 10 states and Union Territories (UTs).

In Tamil Nadu, the government reversed its decision on reopening schools for classes 9 to 12 from 16 November. In view of the approaching festive season and the likelihood of flouting of social distancing norms,  the state government also cancelled its order allowing social, political, religious, and cultural events from 16 November with a cap of 100 persons.

Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot said that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection and said he was taking advice from doctors. Pilot requested those who came in contact with him to get themselves tested.

1,600 enrolled for Covishield phase-3 trials: SII

The Pune-based Serum Institute and the ICMR announced the completion of enrolment for phase-3 clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccine Covishield in India.

The ICMR and SII have collaborated for the clinical development of Covovax developed by Novavax, US and upscaled by SII, a statement said. While the ICMR has funded the clinical trial site fees, SII has funded other expenses for Covishield.

At present, SII and ICMR are conducting phase 2/3 clinical trials of Covishield at 15 different centres across the country. It completed the enrolment of all 1,600 participants on 31 October.

“The promising results of the trials so far gives confidence that Covishield could be a realistic solution to the deadly pandemic. Covishield is by far the most advanced vaccine in human testing in India,” the ICMR said.

“Based on the phase 2/3 trial results, SII with the help of ICMR will pursue the early availability of this product for India. SII has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine, under the at-risk manufacturing and stockpiling license from DCGI,” the apex health research body said.

Covishield has been developed at SII Pune laboratory with a master seed from Oxford University/AstraZeneca.

The vaccine made in the United Kingdom is currently being tested in large efficacy trials in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and the US, the statement said. Novavax has initiated its late phase trials in South Africa and in the UK and will soon commence the same in the US.

SII has received the bulk vaccine and Matrix-M adjuvant from Novavax and will soon fill and finish them in vials. This vaccine formulated at SII (Covovax) will be tested in a phase 3 trial in India. An application for the same to regulatory authorities will be made soon by the ICMR and SII.

Delhi HC pulls up AAP govt for easing curbs

The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the government cannot be allowed to play with the lives of citizens and that the State is responsible for the health of citizens for which others have to chip in, including private hospitals.

The court made the remarks while allowing the reservation of 88 percent of ICU beds in private hospitals to continue till 26 November,

A bench of justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said the Delhi government has to be much more alive to the current situation which the whole city can see for itself.

On Wednesday, too, the court had questioned the AAP government for easing restrictions, observing that other similarly placed states were bringing in curbs.

While hearing a PIL seeking increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the National Capital, the court had pointed out that “one in four persons in the city appears to be infected by COVID-19 and that the virus has touched almost every household in the national capital.”

The bench of Justice Kohli and Prasad made the remarks after perusing latest report of the fourth round of sero-survey carried out in the National Capital, which also showed that the rate of infection in the central district of Delhi had more than doubled in comparison to September.

A serological survey is conducted to assess the prevalence of a disease in a population. It is done by detecting the presence of specific antibodies that are produced against the virus.

A total of 15,015 people were tested under the survey conducted between 15 October to 21,  and the prevalence of antibodies was found to be slightly higher in females at 26.1 percent as compared to males( 25.06 percent). The seroprevalence was also comparatively higher,  at 29.83 percent, in participants of more than 50 years of age, the report stated.

Schools to remain shut, no gatherings in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, which reported 2,112 new coronavirus cases and 25 deaths on Thursday, the state government rolled back its decision allowing reopening of schools as well as order permitting public gatherings from 16 November.

While colleges were also earlier scheduled to function from 16 November, the government said colleges and varsities shall reopen from 2 December only for research scholars and final year postgraduate students of science and technology streams. “The opening of colleges for all other courses will be announced later,” the government said in an official release and added that hostels would be opened only for those students who will resume studies from next month.

Disclosing the outcome of state-wide consultations held with parents of students of private, government and aided schools on 9 November, the government said the opinion was divided. Parents of some schools wanted the institutions to reopen, but others were against such a move in view of the coronavirus pandemic and the school education department analysed the opinions holistically, the release said.

“The order on reopening schools from 16 November for classes 9-12 is cancelled. An announcement on reopening schools will be made later based on the situation,” the government said.

The state government also cancelled its order allowing social, political, religious and cultural events from 16 November permitting participation of a maximum of 100 people. Citing festival season and people congregating in large numbers in public places throwing anti- COVID-19 norms like social distancing to the winds, the government said curbs will continue as regards such programmes and it includes those related to entertainment and education.

An official release said it  has come to the government’s notice that people gathered in large numbers in public places like markets, and they thronged bus terminals, “without paying attention to social distancing and wearing masks,”

Though the spread of the virus has been controlled in Tamil Nadu due to a slew of measures, when a possibility of a second wave of the pandemic could be seen in some foreign countries, it has become imperative to intensify curbs, the government said.

 

 

34% of Tripura’s population has antibodies: survey

In the north-eastern state of Tripura, about one-third of the population has developed ‘antibody’ against COVID-19 virus, state education minister Ratan Lal said on Thursday.

“We have received the data from a serological survey report of the Agartala Government Medical College (AGMC) that 34 percent people of the state have developed antibodies against the deadly coronavirus “, Nath, who is also the Cabinet spokesperson told reporters.

The survey was conducted from 15 to 17 October in eight districts of the state and 4,800 samples were collected to identify the present antibody levels and to assess the stage of community infection, the minister informed.

The COVID-19 fatality rate has dropped to 1.12 percent and the recovery rate among the COVID-19 patients has now increased to 95.27 percent, he said. However, the serological survey did not indicate that the state has developed herd immunity, Nath added.

Tripura’s COVID-19 tally on Thursday rose to 31,765 as 59 more people tested positive for the virus. The state currently has 1,201 active coronavirus cases, while 30,185 people have recovered from the disease.

New cases below 50,000 for 5th straight day

For the fifth day on the trot, new coronavirus cases reported in the country in a span of 24 hours did not cross the 50,000 mark, while the trend of daily new recoveries outnumbering daily new infections continued for the 40th day. As many as 52,718 new recoveries were registered in a day as against 47,905 infections during the same period, said the health ministry.

The recovery rate has risen to 92.89 percent with 80,66,501 people having recuperated from the disease so far, the ministry’s data showed. The active cases across the country currently number 4,89,294 and comprise only 5.63 percent of the total caseload.

“The gap between recovered cases and active cases has steadily widened to 75,77,207,” the ministry underlined.

As many as 78 percent of the new recoveries are concentrated in 10 states and UTs.  At 9,164, Maharashtra reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries while Delhi followed close behind with  7,264 people recuperating from the viral infection. Kerala reported 7,252 new recoveries.

In terms of new cases, Delhi observed another spike and reported the highest daily new cases, also its highest tally so far with 8,593 new cases. The National Capital is followed by Kerala with 7,007 cases and Maharashtra with 4,907 cases, the ministry said.

Of the 550 fatalities, 80 percent were reported from 10 states and UTs. With 125 deaths in 24 hours, Maharashtra accounted for 22.7 percent followed by Delhi and West Bengal 85 and 49 new deaths, respectively.

 

With inputs from PTI

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