Active COVID-19 cases below 6 lakh for third day, says Centre; Covaxin launch in Q2 of 2021, says Bharat Biotech

The total caseload in the country rose to 81,84,082, the toll touched 1,22,111 and the recovery rate surged to 91.54 percent, said the ministry in its morning update.

FP Staff November 01, 2020 22:18:32 IST
Active COVID-19 cases below 6 lakh for third day, says Centre; Covaxin launch in Q2 of 2021, says Bharat Biotech

Representational Image. AP

Active coronavirus cases in India remained below six lakh for the third consecutive day, said the Union health ministry on Sunday as the country recorded 46,963 new infections, 470 deaths, and 58,684 recoveries.

The total caseload rose to 81,84,082, the toll touched 1,22,111 and the recovery rate surged to 91.54 percent, said the ministry in its morning update. Active cases (5,70,458) comprise only 6.97 percent of the total caseload, it added.

A top Bharat Biotech official said the company has begun site preparations for phase-3 trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and plans to launch the vaccine in the second quarter of 2021.

In Tamil Nadu, agriculture minister R Doraikkannu died at a hospital in Chennai, weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus infection. He was 72.

India's coronavirus cases per million among lowest in world

At 5,930, India's average COVID-19 cases per million population are among the lowest in the world, asserted the Union health ministry, adding that 17 states and UTs have COVID-19 cases per million lower than the national average.

Noting that there has been a steady decline of daily COVID-19 fatalities in the country, the ministry said that India's deaths due to the deadly virus, at 88 per million population, were also among the lowest in the world.

Twenty-one states and UTs have deaths per million lower than the national average, the ministry said. Of the 470 deaths recorded in the 24 hours between 8 am on Saturday and 8 am on Sunday, nearly 78 percent are concentrated in ten states and UTs and more than 15 percent were reported from Maharashtra (74 deaths), the ministry highlighted.

It further stated that 76 percent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and UTs. Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra have contributed the maximum to the new recovered cases with more than 7,000 single day recoveries. Delhi and West Bengal, both have added more than 4,000 to the new recoveries, the ministry said.

A total of 46,963 new coronavirus infections were recorded in a span of 24 hours of which 77 percent are from 10 states and UTs. Kerala is still reporting a very high number of new cases with more than 7,000 cases followed by Maharashtra and Delhi with more than 5,000 cases. it said.

The trajectory of the active caseload across different states and UTs has been diverse, demonstrating their focused efforts and gradual progress in their fight against COVID-19 , the ministry said, noting that Karnataka has reported a steep decline in the active cases in a span of 24 hours.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 10,98,87,303  samples have been tested up to 31 October, of which 10,91,239  samples were tested on Saturday.

Tamil Nadu minister passes away

Tamil Nadu agriculture minister R Doraikkannu, who was on life support for several days after being admitted on 13 October,  died at Chennai's Kauvery hospital at 11.15 pm on Saturday.

"With deep grief, we announce the sad demise of Honourable Minister for Agriculture R Doraikkannu," hospital executive director Dr Aravdindan Selvaraj said in a brief medical bulletin.

The three-time AIADMK MLA is the third sitting elected representative from the state to have died after contracting the disease.

Doraikkannu was rushed to the government medical college hospital in Villupuram on 13 October after he complained of uneasiness while travelling to Salem. He was shifted to the Kauvery Hospital on the same day, where he tested positive for COVID-19 .

The hospital had said on Monday that the minister was being treated for severe COVID pneumonia and its complications. He was put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a heart- lung assistance machine, and ventilator.

Assam relaxes testing guidelines for visitors

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the state government has decided to allow some relaxations in testing and quarantine guidelines for those arriving in the state.

Foreign dignitaries and top officials,  including diplomats of all embassies and diplomatic missions, officials of multilateral funding agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank, besides those from investigating, intelligence and security agencies and Income Tax Department,  arriving in Assam for official visits will be exempted from undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine, he said.

The administration has also given some relaxations to commoners, exempting people testing negative for the infection in RT-PCR tests conducted within 72 hours before their arrival in Assam and locals returning within 24 hours of leaving the state from tests and quarantine, Sarma told reporters.

However, the exemption for those testing negative for COVID-19 in RT-PCR tests will be subject to the production of satisfactory documents and verification of test results on the ICMR portal, he said.

Children below 10 years of age arriving in Assam are also exempted from undergoing mandatory COVID-19 tests if they don't exhibit any coronavirus symptom, he said, adding parents may, however, voluntarily get their wards tested for the infection.

Bharat Biotech aims to launch Covaxin in 2021 Q2

Bharat Biotech's International executive director Sai Prasad told news agency PTI that the company aims to launch its vaccine candidate Covaxin in the second quarter of the next year, provided all necessary approvals were received.

"If we get all the approvals after establishing strong experimental evidence and data, and efficacy and safety data in our last stage of trials, we aim to launch the vaccine in Q2 of 2021," the news agency quoted him as saying.

The indigenous vaccine candidate has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)  and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) using inactivated Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 . The virus was isolated in an ICMR lab, Bharat Biotech told PTI.

The firm, which recently got the go-ahead to conduct phase-three trials, said it had started site preparatory exercises.

"The trial to be conducted in 25 to 30 sites across 13-14 states will provide two doses each for the vaccine and placebo recipients. About 2,000 subjects could be enrolled per hospital," Prasad said, adding that recruitment and dosage would begin in November.

Prasad said the price of the vaccine is yet to be determined, as the company is still looking at the cost of product development. "Our immediate focus is to conduct Phase 3 trial successfully across sites," he added.

Ayurvedic infection effective in mild to moderate cases, says AIIA

In another development, a team of doctors from the Delhi-based All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) under the Ayush Ministry, said it has found that Ayurveda interventions like Ayush kwatha and Fifatrol tablets can be effective in mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 infection in a "very short period" with "complete regression of symptoms".

Use of four Ayurveda interventions — Ayush kwatha, Sanshamanivati, Fifatrol tablets and Laxmivilasa rasa —not only improved the condition of COVID-19 patient but also turned the rapid antigen test negative within six days of treatment, according to a case report published in the journal of AIIA— 'Ayurved Case Report' in October.

The report cited the example of a 30-year-old male health worker, whose infection was managed with Samshamana therapy that included oral administration of Ayush kwatha, Sanshamani vati, Fifatrol tablets, and Laxmivilasa rasa. The patient after testing positive for COVID-19 was advised home quarantine.

"The mentioned treatment plan was effective in the symptomatic relief (fever, dyspnea, anorexia, fatigue, anosmia, and dysgeusia) as well as in the resolution of viral load, as the patient tested negative in the RAD for COVID-19 within six days of intervention and RT-PCR test was also done on day 16, which was reported negative," the study said.

The treatment was personalised, holistic, and purely based on Ayurvedic principles, and no conventional medicines were used.

Herbal drug Fifatrol developed by AIMIL Pharmaceutical helps fight infection, flu and cold. and contains immunity strengthening herbs.

Ayush Kwathais a combination of four medicinal herbs commonly used in every Indian kitchen: basil leaves (tulsi), cinnamon bark (dalchini), Zingiber officinale (sunthi), and krishna marich (Piper nigrum).

Sanshamani Vati (also called guduchi ghana vati) is an ayurvedic herbal formulation used for all types of fevers while Laxmivilas Ras is a traditional herbo-mineral medicine that mainly contains Abhrak Bhasma and cures cough, cold and rhinitis. It soothes the throat and sinuses.

The report authored by Dr Sisir Kumar Mandal, Dr Meenakshi Sharma, Dr Charu Sharma, Dr Shalini Rai and Dr Anand More from the AIIA said, "With this case study, it can be inferred that Ayurveda has vast potential to address COVID-19 and such other pandemics; a large sample-sized, multi-center randomized and controlled clinical studies are the need of the hour."

Global updates

UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday evening announced the latest stay-at-home rules for England, to come into effect from Thursday and last until at least 2 December.

Johnson declared that no responsible prime minister can ignore the message of the surge in figures being given by experts and must be humble in the face of nature.

"In this country alas, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers whose models suggest that unless we act we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day. A peak of mortality alas far bigger than the one we saw in April," said Johnson.

The new rules, which will be debated in Parliament before a vote on Wednesday, will be enforced across England from midnight on Thursday until the start of December.

They would mean people in England will be allowed to leave home only for specific reasons, including for education; for work, if someone cannot work from home; for exercise and recreation outdoors within your household or on your own with one person from another household; for medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; to shop for food and essentials, and to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed and pubs, bars, restaurants must close except for takeaway and delivery services. Workplaces are expected to stay open where people can't work from home, such as in the construction or manufacturing sectors.

As per news agency AP, Cabinet minister Michael Gove on Sunday however said it was the government’s “fervent hope” that the lockdown would end on time, but that could not be guaranteed.

“With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time,” he told Sky News. “We’re going to review it on 2 December but we’re always driven by what the data says.”

Britain has the worst virus toll in Europe, with over 46,500 dead, and it passed one million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday.

Sri Lanka extends curfew in Western province

Following a surge in cases, Sri Lanka too extended until 9 November the curfew announced in the Western province last, where the capital Colombo is located.

"The curfew which was due to end at 5 am tomorrow will be extended until 5 am on 9 November", Shavendra Silva, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and the head of the COVID-19 prevention task force said.

He said that no one should leave their homes unless there is a medical emergency. The new cases have been attributed to two clusters the garment factory and a fish market in Colombo.

The island nation has so far recorded 10,663 COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths due to the disease.

With inputs from agencies


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