COVID-19 updates: SC slams Centre's vaccination policy, seeks purchase data; India sees 1.32 lakh new cases
Meanwhile,Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to all the chief ministers in the country, urging them to build a consensus over procurement of the COVID vaccines by the Centre for distribution among the states
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to place on record all relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking culminating into the COVID-19 vaccination policy, and the purchase history of jabs till date, including Covaxin, Covishield and the Sputnik V.
The apex court further directed all states and Union territories to provide within two weeks their stand on free vaccination.
It also asked the Centre to specify the steps being taken by it to ensure drug availability for mucormycosis or black fungus.
This, as India maintained the declining trend in new cases with 1.32 lakh fresh infections while the daily positivity rate dropped to 6.57 percent, as per data from the Union health ministry. The COVID-19 toll on Wednesday climbed to 3,35,102 with 3,207 fresh deaths and active cases were recorded below 20 lakh for the second consecutive day, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The 3,207 new fatalities include 854 from Maharashtra, 490 from Tamil Nadu, 464 from Karnataka, 194 from Kerala, 175 from Uttar Pradesh, 137 from West Bengal and 104 from Andhra Pradesh. A total of 3,35,102 deaths have been reported so far in the country.
Also, 20,19,773 tests were conducted on Tuesday taking the total cumulative tests conducted so far for detection of COVID-19 in the country to 35,00,57,330.
The active cases have reduced to 17,93,645 comprising 6.34 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 92.48 percent.
Meanwhile, taking a cue from the Centre's decision to cancel the CBSE Class 12 board exams amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments decided to cancel the upcoming state board exams for Class 12 students.
Naveen Patnaik writes to counterparts, Mamata slams Centre
Meanwhile, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday wrote to all the chief ministers in the country, urging them to build a consensus over procurement of the COVID vaccines by the Centre for distribution among the states. In the letter, Patnaik wrote that no state is safe unless all the states adopt vaccination as the topmost priority and execute it on war-footing.
"The only way to protect our people against future waves and provide them with a hope of survival is vaccination," Patnaik wrote in the letter that he shared on Twitter, tagging all the chief ministers.
"But this cannot be a battle among the states to compete against each other to procure vaccines," he added.
Patnaik noted that after the Centre announced phase 3 of the vaccine policy, allowing vaccination for everyone above the age of 18 and opened procurement for the states and private sector, the demand increased.
"Many states have floated global tenders for vaccine procurement. However, it is quite clear that the global vaccine manufacturers are looking forward to the Union Government for the clearances and assurances," he said.
"They are unwilling to get into supply contracts with the state government. While the domestic vaccine manufacturers are having supply constraints and are not able to commit required supplies," the chief minister said.
Also on Wednesday, West Bengal chief minister called the Centre's claim of vaccinating the entire population above the age of 18 years by 2021 a 'hoax', and yet again demanded that the Union government provide jabs free of cost to states.
This, two days after the Central Government said it expects to inoculate the country's adult population by the end of the year.
"That claim is just a hoax. The Centre says things like these. Before the Bihar elections, they had promised to inoculate its population after the elections, but nothing happened," she told reporters at the state secretariat.
Banerjee said considering the gap between doses, the process to vaccinate the entire eligible age group should take six months to a year to complete. She said her government has spent Rs 150 crore to procure vaccines, but only 1.4 crore of the state's over 10-crore population could be inoculated so far.
"The Centre is not sending vaccines to states. Whatever little stock that is supplied, gets depleted within days... It must give free vaccines to state governments," she said.
Also on Wednesday, the Kerala Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the Centre provide COVID-19 vaccines free of cost to all states, even as the ruling and opposition members clashed over the COVID-19 fatality numbers in the state.
Minister for Health, Women and Child Welfare Veena George moved the resolution in the House as the state reels under acute vaccine shortage.
This was the second unanimous resolution passed in the first session of the 15th Legislative Assembly led by the Left Democratic Front (LDF). The first one was in the matter of the Lakshadweep islands seeking recall of the administrator. The resolution also requested the Central Government ensure timely distribution of the vaccines.
"In order to fight COVID-19, we need to provide free universal vaccination which will ensure that all sections of the society are protected from the virus," George said. She noted that the first wave of COVID-19 had weakened the economy and now the country was facing the second wave.
"If we could take necessary steps for speeding up the vaccination, it would help the economy also," she said and urged everyone to join hands to combat the pandemic and ensure universal vaccination.
IMA says 594 doctors died during COVID-19 second wave
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Asociated (IMA) said as many as 594 doctors have died due to COVID-19 in the ongoing second wave with Delhi recording the maximum 107 fatalities. According to the IMA, 748 doctors died of the infection across the country in the first wave of the pandemic.
Delhi recorded 107 deaths in the second wave, followed by Bihar 96, Uttar Pradesh 67, Rajasthan 43, Jhakhand 39 and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana 32 each, according to data compiled at the IMA's COVID-19 registry.
"Last year 748 doctors across India succumbed to COVID-19, while in the current wave we have lost 594 doctors in a short period," IMA president JA Jayalal said.
New study reveals global 'hot spots'
On the global front, a new study said that global land-use changes including forest fragmentation, agricultural expansion and concentrated livestock production are creating "hot spots" favourable for bats that carry coronaviruses and where conditions are ripe for the diseases to jump from bats to humans.
While the exact origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus remain unclear, scientists believe that the COVID-19 disease likely emerged when a virus that infects horseshoe bats was able to jump to humans, either directly through wildlife-to-human contact, or indirectly by first infecting an intermediate animal host, such as the pangolin, sometimes known as the scaly anteater.
Horseshoe bats are known to carry a variety of coronaviruses, including strains that are genetically similar to ones that cause COVID-19 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The new study used remote sensing to analyze land-use patterns throughout the horseshoe bat's range, which extends from Western Europe through Southeast Asia.
Most of the current hot spots are clustered in China, where a growing demand for meat products has driven the expansion of large-scale, industrial livestock farming.
Concentrated livestock production is particularly concerning because the practice brings together large populations of genetically similar, often immune-suppressed animals that are highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, the researchers said.
The findings were published by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) and the Massey University of New Zealand.
The analysis also found that parts of Japan, the north Philippines and China south of Shanghai are at risk of becoming hot spots with further forest fragmentation, while parts of Indochina and Thailand may transition into hot spots with increases in livestock production.
This comes amid Malaysia struggling to contain a worsening COVID-19 crisis and Vietnam identifying a new, highly transmissible hybrid of COVID variants identified in India and UK.
Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 15,169 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally to 57,76,184, and 285 fresh deaths and also added 268 previously unreported fatalities, the state health department said.
The statewide toll rose to 96,751, it said. The new cases were higher than 14,123 infections registered on Tuesday.
Rajasthan recorded 1,276 fresh coronavirus cases and 65 deaths due to the disease on Wednesday, taking the infection tally to 9,42,236 and the toll to 8,515, according to an official report. Jaipur recorded a maximum of seven such deaths, followed by Jodhpur (6) besides fatalities registered in other cities, the report said.
Delhi recorded 576 fresh COVID-19 cases at a positivity rate of 0.78 percent and 103 more fatalities due to the disease on Wednesday. This is the third consecutive day that the positivity rate was recorded at below one percent in the National Capital.
Andhra Pradesh recorded 12,768 fresh cases of coronavirus, 15,612 recoveries and 98 deaths in the 24 hours ending 9 am on Wednesday. The number of active COVID-19 cases dropped to 1,43,795, the latest bulletin said. The cumulative positive cases now increased to 17,17,156, recoveries to 15,62,229 and deaths 11,132, it said.
Uttar Pradesh reported 115 fresh COVID-19 deaths and 1,514 infections on Wednesday, pushing the state''s overall figures to 20,787 fatalities and 16,93,992 cases, the health department said. Of the fresh deaths, 11 were reported from Gorakhpur, 10 from Kanpur Nagar, eight from Lucknow, six each from Allahabad, Meerut, Jhansi, Amroha and five from Ayodhya among others, a health department release said.
The 1,514 fresh cases include 96 from Meerut, 79 from Gautam Buddh Nagar, 70 from Saharanpur, 60 from Gorakhpur, 58 from Varanasi, 55 from Bulandshahr, 54 from Lucknow, 52 each from Muzaffarnagar and Jaunpur, the release said.
Kerala recorded 19,661 fresh C0VID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the caseload to 25,35,975, while the toll has mounted to 9,222 with 213 more deaths. As many as 29,708 people were cured of the infection today, taking the total recoveries to 23,64,210, the state government said in a press release here. The active cases in the state have come down to 1,92,165, according to the release.
With inputs from agencies
Unclaimed funds: Supreme Court issues notice to Centre on plea seeking creation of centralised online database
The plea has also sought a direction to establish a procedure for dealing with claims of legal heirs qua bank deposits, insurance, post office funds etc., that eliminates unnecessary litigation
Supreme Court issues notices to Centre, ONGC on appeal of Vedanta Ltd related to Barmer oil field in Rajasthan
Vedanta Ltd has moved the top court against the 26 March judgement of a division bench of the Delhi High Court setting aside a single judge order directing the Centre to extend till 2030 its PSC with Vedanta Ltd and ONGC to produce oil from the Barmer oil field
The Court has also asked the Centre, the Election Commission, Kapil Sibal, and the petitioners to submit their recommendations on the makeup of an expert group that will explore how to control freebies and report to it within seven days