Two COVID studies paused due to safety issues; Mumbai metro to resume from 19 Oct, India’s tally crosses 72 lakh

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Two COVID studies paused due to safety issues; Mumbai metro to resume from 19 Oct, India's tally crosses 72 lakh
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India’s coronavirus tally rose to 72,39,389 on Wednesday as the country reported 63,509 new infections in 24 hours. The country’s toll climbed by 730 to 1,10,586

India’s COVID-19 tally climbed to 72,39,389 on Wednesday with 63,509 infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease crossed 63 lakh, said the Union Health Ministry.

The toll due to the infectious disease rose to 1,10,586 after the death of 730 more people in the span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Meanwhile, India will reopen further from tomorrow (15 October) as schools, cinema halls, multiplexes, entertainment parks, swimming pools – all outside containment zones – will reopen with strict COVID-19 norms in place.

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday allowed Mumbai Metro services to restart in a phased manner from Thursday, and also increased the number of local trains.

It also restarted air-conditioned local train services. Besides this, government and private libraries and weekly bazaars will be allowed to run.

Independent monitors have paused enrollment in a study testing the COVID-19 antiviral drug Remdesivir plus an experimental antibody therapy being developed by Eli Lilly similar to a treatment President Donald Trump recently received.

This comes just a day after Johnson & Johnson temporarily halted its COVID-19 vaccine trial because one of its participants fell ill.

For six days in a row, the active cases of COVID-19 remained below 9 lakh. There are 8,26,876 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 11.42 percent of the total caseload. With at least 63,01,927 patients being cured, the COVID-19 recovery rate is now at 87.05 percent.

The case fatality rate was recorded at 1.53 percent.

Mumbai metro to resume from 19 Oct

The Maharashtra government Wednesday allowed resumption of metro rail services in the state from 15 October in a graded manner as part of its “Mission Begin Again”. According to new guidelines, government and private libraries will also be allowed to resume from October 15 in adherence to strict Covid-19 protocols.

However, following the announcement, the Mumbai Metro said it will resume operations from 19 October.

The government also allowed the reopening of all State-run and private libraries from Thursday following COVID-19 protocols, as per the guidelines issued. It also allowed business-to-business exhibitions from tomorrow outside containment zones.

Local weekly bazaars, including that of animals, will also be allowed to reopen outside containment zones.

With an aim to reduce crowds, markets and shops will be allowed to remain open for two additional hours till 9 pm from tomorrow.

Significantly, the government has decided to do away with stamping with indelible ink for domestic passengers arriving at different airports after COVID-19 testing.

Similarly, the health check-up and stamping of passengers at railway stations will also be stopped.

Schools, cinema halls, swimming pools to reopen

Social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, with effect from 15 October.  The Centre has also given the flexibility states/UTs to permit gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside containment zones.

In closed spaces, a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitiser will be mandatory.

Cinema halls and other multiplexes can reopen with 50 percent occupancy with adequate physical distancing while seating from Thursday. Seats which are not to be occupied shall have to be marked as such. Show timings shall be staggered and digital payment modes will be encouraged. Also, sufficient number of ticket counters will be opened and advance booking allowed to prevent crowding. Only packaged food and beverages will be allowed.

Besides schools and cinema halls, swimming pools used for training of sportspersons will also be permitted to open, for which the standard operating procedure will be issued by the government. Even entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open with strict COVID-19 regulations in place.

Three COVID-19 reinfection cases identified

Three cases of suspected coronavirus reinfection – two in Mumbai and one in Ahmedabad – have been “described” in India, the country’s apex medical research body said on Tuesday.

Director-general Balram Bhargava said the Indian Council of Medical Research had decided upon a cut-off of 100 days for reinfection if it occurs as, according to some studies, antibodies were also assumed to have a life of four months.

“Reinfection was a problem which was first described via a case from Hong Kong. Subsequently, a few cases were described in India: two in Mumbai and one in Ahmedabad,” Bhargava said at a press conference in Delhi.

“We have got some data from the WHO, which says that there are about two dozen reinfection cases in the world at the moment,” he said. “We are looking at the ICMR database and finding out those who have had reinfection and making telephonic contact to get some data out of them.”

The definition of reinfection, whether it is 90 days, 100 days, or 110 days, is still not decided even by the World Health Organisation, according to Bhargava.

However, the government is taking the cutoff of about 100 days if reinfection occurs because that is “what we have assumed as the life of antibodies”, the official said. “So it’s work in progress.”

Eli Lilly COVID-19 studies paused

US-based company Eli Lilly has confirmed that a study testing the COVID-19 antiviral drug Remdesivir plus an experimental antibody therapy has been paused “out of an abundance of caution” and said safety is its top concern, reports AFP. The company would not say more about what led to this step.

The paused study, called ACTIV-3, started in August and aims to enroll 10,000 hospitalised COVID-19 patients in the United States, Denmark, and Singapore.

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsors the study, would not immediately comment.

Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. The experimental drugs are concentrated versions of one or two specific antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests.

This study was testing a single antibody that Lilly is developing with the Canadian company AbCellera. Trump received an experimental two-antibody combo drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Lilly and Regeneron have asked the US Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorisation for their drugs for COVID-19 while late-stage studies continue.

World Bank approves $12 bn for vaccine in developing nations

The World Bank said on Wednesday that it approved $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment, reports AFP.

The financing “aims to support vaccination of up to a billion people,” the bank said in a statement.

The money is part of an overall World Bank Group (WBG) package of up to $160 billion through June 2021 designed to help developing countries battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This financing package helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement read.

“It will also provide financing and technical support so that developing countries can prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners.”

Access to safe and effective vaccines “and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” World Bank Group president David Malpass said in the statement.

State-wise deaths in India

The 730 new fatalities reported on Wednesday include 187 from Maharashtra, 87 from Karnataka, 62 from West Bengal, 57 from Tamil Nadu, 45 from Delhi, 35 from Andhra Pradesh and 34 from Punjab.

A total of 1,10,586 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 40,701 from Maharashtra followed by 10,371 from Tamil Nadu, 10,123 from Karnataka, 6,466from Uttar Pradesh,6,291 from Andhra Pradesh, 5,854 from Delhi, 5,744 from West Bengal, 3,894 from Punjab and 3,584 from Gujarat.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 percent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

With inputs from PTI

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