Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine 94.5% effective, Covaxin enters Phase 3 trials; India’s tally at 88.45 lakh

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India's COVID-19 tally crosses 65 lakh, 75,829 new cases in 24 hrs; aim to vaccinate 25 crore by July, says Harsh Vardhan
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Meanwhile, around 75 doctors and 250 paramedics from the Central paramilitary forces headed to Delhi from different parts of the country to bolster the healthcare workforce as the National Capital faces a third wave of coronavirus cases.

More good news regarding a possible COVID-19 vaccine came on Monday with biotech giant Moderna announcing that its vaccine candidate has shown to be 94.5 percent effective.

This, just a week after the vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech also showed similar results in preventing the infection in volunteers.

On the home front, Bharat Biotech began the Phase 3 trials of its COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covaxin’ on Monday. Last month, the vaccine-maker said it had successfully completed interim analysis of Phase 1 and 2 trials and has initiating Phase-III trials for 26,000 participants.

Covaxin is being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the ICMR and National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Meanwhile, around 75 doctors and 250 paramedics from the Central paramilitary forces headed to Delhi from different parts of the country to bolster the healthcare workforce as the National Capital faces a third wave of coronavirus cases.

This, a day after Union home minister Amit Shah held a review meeting on the COVID-19 situation in the National Capital and issued 11 directives to tackle the surge.

The countrywide situation in figures on Monday stood as follows: 30,548 new cases reported took the total caseload to 88,45,127, while the toll climbed to 1,30,070 with 435 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Additionally, the Union health ministry said that India’s trend of registering more daily COVID-19 recoveries than infections continued for the 44th consecutive day on Monday, as 43,851 patients recuperated in a span of 24 hours.

“This translates to a net reduction of 13,303 in the active COVID-19 caseload which now stands at 4,65,478 and accounts for 5.26 percent of the total cases.

“Daily new cases numbering 30,548 is a historic low that assumes significance given many countries in Europe and America are experiencing a continuous steep rise in daily new cases,” the ministry said. The recovery rate rose to 93.27 percent as the total recovered cases have surged to 82,49,579, the ministry added.

Congress MP and former Union minister Manish Tewari tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective: Moderna

Massachusetts-based Moderna on Monday said the independent National Institutes of Health-appointed Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for the Phase 3 study of vaccine candidate ‘mRNA-1273’, found the vaccine to have an efficacy of 94.5 percent.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters. This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” said Stphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

Based on these interim safety and efficacy data, Moderna intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks and anticipates having the EUA informed by the final safety and efficacy data (with a median duration of at least 2 months).

Moderna also plans to submit applications for authorisations to global regulatory agencies.

Bancel said the company is looking forward to the next milestones of submitting for an emergency use authorisation in the US, and regulatory filings in countries around the world, “while we continue to collect data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in the COVE study. We remain committed to and focused on doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the end of 2020, the company expects to have approximately 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 ready to ship in the US. The company remains on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021.

The announcements about the vaccines and their potential availability for use among the general population in the coming weeks and months has offered hope to millions around the world in a year that has seen the COVID-19 pandemic devastate lives and economies and still showing no signs of abating.

So far the coronavirus has infected more than 54 million people around the world and killed more than 1.3 million people even as governments implemented strict lockdowns and restrictions to slow the spread of the virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

A second wave of infections is threatening to derail economies and impact lives again as countries have gradually begun to ease restrictions and open up.

Centre deploys healthcare staff in Delhi

Seventy five doctors and 250 paramedics will join the health workers of Delhi to handle the COVID-19 patients as early as possible, PTI reported.

The doctors and paramedics of the paramilitary forces are coming from as far as Assam and Tamil Nadu besides Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan.

Additionally, arrangements are being made to enhance the number of oxygen beds by strengthening the 10,000-bed Chhatarpur COVID-19 care centre, as decided at a high-level meeting chaired by the Shah on Sunday.

At present, officials said, 10 percent of the beds at the Sardar Patel COVID care centre are oxygen supported and it is called the dedicated COVID healthcare centre (DCHC).

The Centre on Sunday announced a slew of steps including making available 300 additional ICU beds, double the number of dailyPCR tests and a house-to-house survey in the entire National Capital.

Some of the hospitals under the municipal corporations of Delhi will be converted into dedicated capital to deal with the shortage of manpower.

Meanwhile, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain dismissed possibility of re-imposing a lockdown as the city faced its third COVID-19 wave. He added that the wave had “peaked”.

Talking to reporters, he said the virus cannot be contained through lockdown and that people should protect themselves by wearing face masks. Delhi has witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since 28 October when the daily rise breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and it crossed the 8,000-mark on Wednesday.

Asked whether the lockdown would be re-imposed in Delhi, Jain said, “No chance.” “I can tell you that the peak of the third wave is gone,” he said.

“Positivity rate is the main indicator in assessing the COVID-19 situation and it had to be observed over a week’s time. First peak was in June, when it stood at nearly 37 percent, in September when the second wave happened, it was 12-13 per cent, and in the third wave, it was at its high, at 15 percent few days ago and then falling. Yesterday, also it was around 15 percent. So, I can say, the peak is gone,” Jain said.

Vaccine will not be enough to stop pandemic, says WHO

The head of the World Health Organization on Monday said that a vaccine would not by itself stop the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic is raging months after it broke out, with infections soaring past 54 million and claiming more than 1.3 million lives.

“A vaccine will complement the other tools we have, not replace them,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “A vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic.”

The WHO’s figures for Saturday showed that 660,905 coronavirus cases were reported to the UN health agency, setting a new high water mark.

That number, and the 645,410 registered on Friday, surpassed the previous daily record high of 614,013 recorded on November 7.

Tedros said that supplies of the vaccine would initially be restricted, with “health workers, older people and other at-risk populations (to) be prioritised. That will hopefully reduce the number of deaths and enable the health systems to cope.”

But he warned: “That will still leave the virus with a lot of room to move. Surveillance will need to continue, people will still need to be tested, isolated and cared for, contacts will still need to be traced… and individuals will still need to be cared for.”

 

Boris Johnson remains in isolation

UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday said that he feels great as he remains in self-isolation at 10 Downing Street in London after coming in contact with an MP who later tested positive for COVID-19 .

In a video message posted on Twitter, 56-year-old Johnson — who had spent three nights in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St Thomas’ Hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in April — said that he must now follow the rules but stressed that he would continue to work from home and continue speaking to the nation by means of electronic communication.

The fact that he had been contacted by the National Health Service (NHS) to self-isolate was a sign that the system was working well, he said.

“The good news is that the NHS Test and Trace is working ever more efficiently. The bad news is that they pinged me and I’ve got to self-isolate because somebody I was in contact with a few days ago has developed COVID. It doesn’t matter that we were doing social distancing, doesn’t matter that I feel great and that I have had the disease and am bursting with antibodies. We have got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways is by self-isolating,” Johnson said.

State-wise details

Delhi saw the greatest number of recoveries as 7,606 confirmed cases recovered. Kerala registered 6,684 daily recoveries while West Bengal followed by reporting 4,480 new recoveries. Over 76 percent of the new cases have been reported from 10 states and UTs.

Kerala recorded 4,581 new cases. Delhi which saw a surge in new cases over the last few days reported only 3,235 new cases on Sunday, followed closely by West Bengal which reported 3,053 new cases.

As much as 78.85 percent of the 435 new deaths are concentrated in 10 states and UTs.

About a fifth, 21.84 percent, of new fatalities reported are from Delhi which reported 95 deaths, overtaking Maharashtra. Maharashtra reported 60 fatalities, which is 13.79 per cent of the new fatalities, the health ministry said.

Fourteen states and UTs have death per million higher than the national average of 94 and13 states and UTs have a case fatality rate higher than national average, the ministry said.

With inputs from agencies

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