COVID-19 vaccine distribution dry runs set to begin in four states; India records lowest daily cases since July
The exercise will include data entry on Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery; testing receipt and allocation; deployment of team members; mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, the Union health ministry said
The Centre is set to begin dry runs of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in four states on Monday. As per reports, the dry run exercise is set to be the "largest and most ambitious mass immunisation programme in India's history".
This as the country registered the lowest number of new cases in nearly six months on Sunday.
The dry run will take place on Monday and Tuesday in Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The exercise will be undertaken as a "mock drill", wherein every step other than the actual administering of the vaccine will be carried out.
The exercise will include data entry on Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery; testing receipt and allocation; deployment of team members; mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, the Union health ministry said.
It will also include testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for the COVID-19 vaccine, and management of crowd at session sites with proper physical distancing.
PTI reported that each state will plan it in two districts and preferably in five different session-type settings: District hospital, community health centre (CHC) or primary health care centre (PHC), urban site, private health facility and rural outreach.
"This exercise will enable end-to-end mobilisation and testing of COVID-19 vaccination process (except the vaccine) and check the usage of Co-WIN in field environment, linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identify challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation including improvements that may be required in the envisaged process," the health ministry said in a statement last week.
To strengthen the human resource for the vaccine introduction and roll-out and detailed training modules have been developed for different categories of vaccine handlers and administrators, including medical officers, vaccinators cold chain handlers, ASHA coordinators and all others involved in the implementation process at different levels.
Livemint reported that the following aspects of the dry run will be monitored by the Centre: "Each district will receive the dummy vaccine for 100 beneficiaries from the nearest depot; the temperature will be tracked through the vaccine's journey from the depot to the vaccination site; an SMS will be sent in advance to the beneficiaries with the name of the vaccinator, and the time of the vaccination; each beneficiary will be made to sit for 30 minutes after being administered the shot, and if an adverse event occurs, its management will be tracked through the central server."
The Andhra Pradesh government in particular has chosen the Krishna district for the first phase of the dry run on Monday, PTI reported.
The state government will be carried out in five locations in the district, Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar was quoted as saying.
"The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive," Bhaskar said on the eve of the programme.
Meanwhile, as the world is set to brace for a new year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hyderabad is poised to emerge as a 'saviour' from the COVID-19 , with as many as five vaccine manufacturing firms based in the city racing to bring out an antidote, as per a PTI report.
The vaccine development process by Bharat Biotech, Biological E Ltd and Aurobindo Pharma are currently in various stages, while Dr Reddy's and Hetero have tie ups for manufacturing the vaccine.
Some of these companies have also drawn up plans to scale up their vaccine manufacturing capacities. Besides vaccine makers, the International Airport in Hyderabad has also stepped up the cold-chain infrastructure for vaccine transportation.
Lowest single-day COVID-19 cases since July
The Union health ministry said that 18,732 new cases were reported, which is the lowest single-day figure in almost six months. The number of new daily cases last reported a dip on 1 July when 18,653 cases were registered.
Meanwhile, the national recovery rate rose to 95.82 percent with a total of 97,61,538 patients having recuperated so far.
The toll climbed to 1,47,622, with virus claiming 279 lives in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed. The COVID-19 case fatality rate was registered at 1.44 percent.
There are 2,78,690 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 2.73 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.
61 MP Assembly staff, 5 MLAs test COVID-19 positive on eve of session
On the eve of the three-day session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, 61 employees and officials of the Assembly secretariat and five MLAs have tested coronavirus positive, Protem Speaker Rameshwar Sharma told reporters.
"As many as 61 employees and officials of the state Assembly secretariat have tested coronavirus positive so far. Besides, five MLAs were also found infected as per the reports received till now," he said, after taking stock of the preparation for the session that begins from Monday.
Sharma said that the MLAs and their personal staff had been asked to undergo coronavirus test before the session began.
"So far, the test reports of 20 MLAs have been received. The reports of several other legislators are still awaited," he said, adding that the reports of more employees and officials are also yet to come.
The employees and officials, who have tested positive for the infection, will not be allowed entry into the House and the legislators can participate in the session virtually, he said.
After taking stock of the preparation, Sharma said that seating arrangement has been made only for 105 MLAs (out of the total 230 legislators) and the remaining ones can participate through video-conference.
"Only MLAs will be allowed to enter and their personal staff would not get entry into the Assembly building. The entry will be given only through one gate," he said. Sharma said that the seating arrangement has been made by keeping social distancing and other norms in mind.
BMC issues revised SOPs over new COVID-19 strain
In view of the emergence of a new coronavirus variant in the UK, the BMC on Sunday issued revised guidelines to ensure the compulsory quarantine for 14 days for all passengers arriving from the UK, Europe, and West Asia.
As per the amended SOPs, travellers will be kept under institutional quarantine after arrival and RT-PCR test will be conducted on the seventh day from the arrival at the respective hotels, institutional facilities at their own cost.
"If the report of the test is found negative, the passenger will be discharged from the institutional quarantine after seven days with the advice of seven days mandatory home quarantine. A total of 14 days quarantine is to be ensured," the BMC said in a release.
As per the guidelines, home quarantine stamp will be put and undertaking will be taken from the travellers that they will abide to be in home quarantine.
If the test result is found positive, passenger will be shifted to designated COVID-19 hospital like Seven Hills for UK and GT hospital for travellers from other countries for further evaluation and treatment, the release said.
'Vaccine should be effective against new variant'
In global developments on the COVID-19 vaccine, a UK report quoted AstraZeneca's chief executive, Pascal Soriot, on Sunday as saying that the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca "should be effective against the highly transmissible new strain of the virus".
The Oxford vaccine, which also has a tie-up with the Serum Institute of India, is expected to win approval in the UK before Thursday, speeding up the provision of the jab to the most vulnerable groups.
The Sunday Times quoted Soriot as saying that new data will show the AstraZeneca vaccine is as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna jabs that have already been approved, protecting 95 percent of patients, and is 100 percent effective in preventing severe illness requiring hospital treatment.
He said that it "should be" effective against the new highly transmissible variant of the deadly virus, which put England under complete lockdown again after its rapid spread was detected.
In the first trials of the Oxford vaccine, it was found to be 62 percent effective overall, though one group accidentally given a half-dose first was 90 percent protected.
According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 16,81,02,657 samples have been tested up to 26 December with 9,43,368 samples being tested on Saturday.
The 279 new fatalities include 60 from Maharashtra, 23 from Delhi, 33 from West Bengal, 21 from Kerala, 14 from Uttar Pradesh, 13 from Uttarakhand and 12 each from Punjab and Chhattisgarh.
A total of 147622 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 49189 from Maharashtra followed by 12051 from Karnataka, 12059 from Tamil Nadu, 10437 from Delhi, 9569 from West Bengal, 8293 from Uttar Pradesh, 7092 from Andhra Pradesh, 5281 from Punjab and 4275 from Gujarat.
With inputs from PTI
Simultaneously, scientists have identified several variants in India, including some that have been blamed for causing reinfection.
AstraZeneca vaccine has higher efficacy against COVID-19 with a three-month gap between doses, says Oxford study
The study, published in The Lancet, suggests that the interval between doses can be safely extended to three months than a six-week gap as the first dose can offer up to 76 percent protection during that period
Over 77 lakh healthcare and frontline workers have received the first dose of the vaccine till Friday, the health ministry said