Coronavirus News Updates: Delhi HC questions controlled vaccination drive; Maharashtra, Kerala continue to see upsurge in cases

Maharashtra also displayed a rise in active cases in 24 hrs followed by Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, the health ministry said

FP Staff March 04, 2021 21:21:57 IST
Coronavirus News Updates: Delhi HC questions controlled vaccination drive; Maharashtra, Kerala continue to see upsurge in cases

Representational image. AFP

The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up the Centre for exporting COVID-19 vaccines instead of vaccinating the country’s citizens on a priority basis and demanded a “sense of urgency” in the matter.

The high court held that the two companies, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, which developed the vaccines Covisheild and Covaxin, respectively, have more capacity to provide the vaccines but it seems that their full capacity is not being exploited.

Meanwhile, a slew of big names took the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who along with his parents took their first dose of the vaccine earlier today, appealed to all eligible people to come forward and get vaccinated, asserting that there's "nothing to fear".

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also took the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine today.

Some other notable names who took the jab today were Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and his wife Mala Bhagat.

Even the Election Commission kicked off the COVID-19 vaccination drive for its officers and staff working at the Nirvachan Sadan in Delhi on Thursday, with former chief election commissioner MS Gill taking his first shot.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar will also get vaccinated after all officials and staff of the commission are inoculated. The vaccination would encourage poll duty officers to perform their duty without fear of COVID-19 , Arora had said.

The commission had on 26 February announced polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Under the special vaccination drive, lakhs of polling officials in the five states and the Union Territory will be inoculated before proceeding on election duty, the statement from the poll body said.

Meanwhile, India reported 17,407 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally to 1,11,56,923, as per data from the Union health ministry. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 jumped by 89 to 1,57,435.

The cumulative number of COVID19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 1.77 crores. As per a press release from the Centre, a total of 10,93,954 vaccine doses were given till 7 pm today, the forty-eighth day of the nationwide COVID19 vaccination drive.

Fresh surge continues in six states

Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka continue to report a surge in daily new COVID-19 cases, accounting for 85.51 percent of fresh cases, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 9,855. This is the highest number recorded in the state since 18 October when 10,259 new cases were reported.

It is followed by Kerala with 2,765 while Punjab reported 772 new cases. The total number of cases with UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has reached 242, the ministry said.

India's total COVID-19 active caseload has reached 1,73,413 comprising 1.55 percent of India's total cases.

"Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh are showing a rise in active cases," the ministry said.

Showcasing the change in active cases for states and UTs in a span of 24 hours, the ministry said Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam witnessed a reduction in the active cases in 24 hours.

However, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat displayed a rise in active cases during the same time period, it said.

India's cumulative recovered cases are following a steadily rising trajectory and have surged to 1,08,26,075.

Delhi HC calls for urgency in conducting vaccination drive

The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind keeping strict control over the class of persons who can be vaccinated against COVID-19 currently as under the present system those above the age of 60 years or with comorbidities can receive the vaccination.

The high court said the two institutes which have developed the vaccines COVISHIELD and COVAXIN – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, respectively – have more capacity to provide the vaccines but it seems that their full capacity is not being exploited.

"We are not utilising it fully. We are either donating it to foreign countries or selling it to them and are not vaccinating our own people. So there has to be that sense of responsibility and urgency," a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

The high court directed the two institutes to file separate affidavits on their capacity to manufacture the vaccines on per day/ week/ month basis and also the current optic of the vaccines and how much-unused capacity is lying.

They also have to indicate if they can scale up their production capacities, it said.

54% of Hyderabad has developed antibodies against COVID, says study

The latest seroprevalence survey in Hyderabad has revealed that around 54 percent of the city’s residents have developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, indicating prior exposure to the coronavirus . The survey also revealed that more than 75 percent of the seropositive population did not know they had contracted coronavirus infection in the past.

The study was jointly conducted by CSIR's Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), ICMR's National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and Bharat Biotech. It was aimed at estimating the seroprevalence of antibodies against the coronavirus in Hyderabad.

Work-life balance becomes worse for working women during COVID, finds survey

With longer work hours and a work from home set-up during the COVID-19 pandemic, a large percentage of working women in India have been negatively impacted in some form or the other due to the work-life balance becoming worse, a survey said.

According to the report, 'Women@Work', on the effects of COVID-19 on the women workforce in the formal sector in India, over 80 percent of working women in India, who participated in the survey, said they have been negatively impacted in some form or the other during COVID-19 with the work-life balance becoming worse.

As per the report, 38.5 percent of working women surveyed said they were adversely affected by the burden of added housework, childcare and eldercare while 43.7 percent said that work-life balance has become worse.

The report was launched by the not-for-profit firm Aspire for Her and Sustainable Advancements on Thursday.

UK coronavirus variant can lead to resurgence of cases, says study

The coronavirus variant that was first reported in the UK is more transmissible than pre-existing variants, and can lead to a large resurgence of COVID-19 cases, according to a new modelling study.

The research, published in the journal Science, noted that without stringent control measures such as limited closure of educational institutions and a greatly accelerated vaccine roll-out, COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths across England in 2021 will exceed those in 2020.

Researchers, including those from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, estimated that the novel variant has a 43-90 percent higher reproduction number than pre-existing variants of SARS-CoV-2 in England. The reproduction number indicates the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one infected person.

They noted that as of 15 February, the variant comprised roughly 95 percent of new SARS-CoV-2 infections in the UK, and has now been identified in at least 82 countries, including India.

Zimbabwe becomes first African country to authorise use of Covaxin

The Indian embassy in Zimbabwe announced on Thursday that the African country has approved the made-in-India vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Covaxin, becoming the first country in the continent to approve the shot developed by Bharat Biotech International Limited.

This comes a day after the Hyderabad-based drugmaker claimed efficacy of 81 percent following an interim analysis of 86 cases in phase 3 trials.

“Zimbabwe has authorised use of COVAXIN, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country in Africa to do so. Trying to get it to Zimbabwe at an early date,” the embassy, located in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare, tweeted.

German panel approves Astrazenca vaccine for people above 65 years

Germany’s health minister says the country’s independent vaccine committee has formally approved giving the AstraZeneca shot to people aged 65 and over.

Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that the decision was “good news for older people who are waiting for a vaccination. They will get vaccinated faster".

The vaccine made by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca is one of three authorised for use in the 27-nation European Union. But several countries, including Germany, initially restricted it to people aged under 65, or in some cases under 55, citing a lack of data on its effectiveness in older people.

The vaccine is produced in India by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covishield.

With inputs from PTI

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