Coronavirus India Update, May 15: Cases cross 80,000, call for a tobacco ban, PM-CARES Fund for vaccine development
The caseload of COVID-19 in India has now reached 81,970. There are currently 51,401 active cases, with the death toll now reaching 2,649 in the country.
The caseload of COVID-19 in India has now reached 81,970 according to the data released by the Union Health Ministry. There are currently 51,401 active cases of the novel coronavirus infection, with the death toll now reaching 2,649 in the country. With 3,995 fresh cases, this was the second-highest rise in the number of cases recorded in a day in India. This was also the fifth consecutive day of at least 3,500 cases coming up, with the infection still surging in states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Kerala, which had more or less controlled the number of cases, also witnessed 26 new cases in the last 24 hours.
Ban sale of tobacco products: Health Minister appeals to states and UTs
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has requested all state and union territory governments to ban the sale of all tobacco products to reduce spitting in public places and stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as for general health and hygiene purposes. Vardhan remarked that smokeless tobacco users also have the habit of spitting, which could not only cause tobacco-related diseases but also spread COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
India faces delayed COVID-19 survey due to faulty Chinese kits
Dr Manoj Murhekar, a member of the national task force against COVID-19 and director of the National Institute of Epidemiology, revealed to Reuters that India is facing a two-week delay in the survey that was to reveal the extent of the spread of the infectious disease in the country due to faulty Chinese antibody testing kits. Four other members of the research team revealed that hundreds of thousands of kits had to be returned to China after the results started showing up as inconsistent. The survey, which was taking 24,000 subjects into account, is now being conducted with indigenous testing kits, and the data is expected to be available by the end of May 2020.
PM-CARES Fund to back India’s COVID-19 vaccine development
The Indian government has allocated INR 100 crores from the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund to support the COVID-19 vaccine development initiatives. The allocated funds’ distribution and utilization will be overseen by the Principal Scientific Advisor, K Vijay Raghavan. There are about 25 vaccine development initiatives currently underway in the country’s academic institutions, industries and start-ups. About 10 of these vaccine development initiatives are getting support from the DBT-BIRAC (Department of Biotechnology - Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council), and it’s yet unclear which initiatives will be eligible for the PM-CARES Funds.
Indian experts see signs of community transmission
Prof. K Srinath Reddy, the President of Public Health Foundation of India (and ex-head of the Department of Cardiology at AIIMS), commented that the spread of the disease to people without travel histories or history of contact, and especially the spike in the recent number of cases, indicate that India is facing community transmission. Dr G Gurjuraj, Department of Epidemiology and Centre for Public Health, Nimhans, also mentioned similar points but insisted that there’s nothing to panic about as long as the Indian government continues to fortify the measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 even after the easing of the lockdown.
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