India inoculates over 12.7 lakh people despite vaccine hesitancy; free jabs reach Seychelles, Myanmar

In a separate but related development, a study published in Lancet found Bharat Biotech's Covaxin showing enhanced immune response without any serious side effects in phase 1 testing

FP Staff January 22, 2021 22:56:25 IST
India inoculates over 12.7 lakh people despite vaccine hesitancy; free jabs reach Seychelles, Myanmar

Over 23,000 people have been recruited as of 5 January, of the 26,000 planned participants in the Covaxin Phase 3 trial. PTI

The cumulative number of vaccinated healthcare workers across the country has surpassed 12.7 lakh through 24,397 sessions as of Friday 6 pm, the Union Health Ministry said. In a span of 24 hours, 2,37,050 people were vaccinated across 4,049 sessions. On the testing front too, India continues to register growing numbers, the ministry said.

In a separate but related development, a study published in Lancet found Bharat Biotech's Covaxin showing enhanced immune response without any serious side effects in phase 1 testing.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with vaccine recipients in his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, and sought to allay any hesitancy towards the vaccine's efficacy and safety during the interaction.

In other news, India has been reaching out to several countries with free vaccine dozes in the neighbourhood. It is also emerging as a steady supplier of the COVID-19 vaccine in the world.

India expands testing infrastructure, active caseload falls below 2 lakh

The expansion in testing infrastructure has given a boost to India's fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The cumulative testing has crossed 19 crore, it underlined.

A total of 8,00,242 samples were tested for COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours which has increased India's total cumulative tests to 19,01,48,024.

"Comprehensive and widespread testing on a sustained basis has resulted in bringing down the positivity rate. The cumulative Positivity Rate stands at 5.59 percent as of today," the ministry said.

Steadily following the trend set over the past weeks, India's active caseload has fallen to 1.78 percent of the total cases. India's active caseload presently stands at 1,88,688. A total of 18,002 new recoveries were registered in a span of 24 hours. This has led to a net decline of 3,620 cases from the total COVID-19 active caseload in a day.

The total recovered cases have surged to 10,283,708 pushing the growing gap between the recovered and the active cases to 1,00,95,020 ( 54.5 times).

The ministry said that 84.70 percent of the new recovered cases are contributed by ten states and UTs. Kerala saw 6,229 persons recovering from COVID-19 . Maharashtra and Karnataka reported 3,980 and 815 new recoveries, respectively. A total of 14,545 new positive cases were registered in a span of 24 hours.

Eight states and UTs have contributed 84.14 percent of the new cases. Kerala reported 6,334 cases in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra recorded 2,886 new cases, while Karnataka registered 674 daily cases.

Over 82 percent of the 163 case fatalities that have been reported in the past 24 hours are from nine states and UTs. Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of new daily deaths with 52 deaths. Kerala also saw a fatality count of 21.

Modi seeks to allay fears about vaccine

Trashing politics over coronavirus vaccines and trying to allay fears, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the call on launching them was taken by scientists.

In a televised interaction with health workers in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, Modi referred indirectly to criticism over the emergency-use clearance given to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

The prime minister said all sorts of things are said in politics but he went by the scientists' decision. "Politicians talk about this and that I gave only one reply that I will do what the scientists say, this is not the job of us politicians to decide," he added.

"And when the go-ahead from the scientists came, we had to decide from where to start. Then we decided to start with health workers who remain in contact with patients constantly," Modi said through video conference.

The prime minister had launched the inoculation drive on 16 January, with the government prioritising three crore health and frontline workers for the initial phase. But the authorities are grappling with hesitancy among the intended beneficiaries, amid concerns expressed by some over the vaccines' safety and efficacy.

Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech. Covishield, the other vaccine rolled out this month, is developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India.

"When doctors and health workers give a clean chit to the vaccine, it sends a very strong message among people about the efficacy of the shots," the prime minister told the gathering of health workers who had got themselves inoculated or had administered the vaccine to others.

"For any vaccine, there is hard work of scientists involved and it is a scientific process. You must have heard that I faced so much pressure on why the vaccine was not coming soon, he said, indicating that he decided to wait for the go-ahead from the scientists.

Phase 1 trial results show Covaxin has tolerable safety, enhanced immunity: Lancet study

India's first indigenous vaccine against COVID-19 , Covaxin, showed enhanced immune response without any serious side effects in the participants enrolled for the phase 1 trials, according to the results published in The Lancet Infectious Disease journal.

Developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, the vaccine has been granted emergency use authorisation in clinical trial mode' by the Indian government.

Covaxin, which is now undergoing phase-3 trials, had raised concerns among experts over its emergency approval earlier this month by India's drug regulator.

The vaccine, codenamed BBV152, was well tolerated in all dose groups with no vaccine-related serious adverse events, noted the authors of the study funded by Bharat Biotech.

The same results were earlier published in the preprint server medRxiv in December.

However, there has been no new data released in the public domain which could demonstrate further safety and efficacy of the preventive.

The authors said that all adverse events were mild and moderate, and were more frequent after the first dose, adding that one adverse event was reported but was unrelated to the vaccine.

The randomised phase 1 trial to assess the safety and immunogenicity of BBV152 was carried at 11 hospitals across India. Adults aged 18-55 years who were deemed healthy by the investigator were eligible.

India gives free vaccine to Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh 

India is providing millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to South Asian countries in addition to assurance of further sale of vaccine doses manufactured indigenously, news reports have said.

Two flights, each carrying two million doses of Covishield vaccine, departed from the Mumbai airport for Brazil and Morocco in the early hours of Friday. India is one of the world's biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.

"The Covishield vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, departed from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) carrying 2 million doses to Brazil via Emirates Sky Cargo and 2 million doses to Morocco on Royal Air Maroc," said a press release by CSMIA.

As of 22 January, CSMIA has facilitated the movement of over 14.17 million doses of the Covishield vaccine across various international and domestic destinations, it mentioned.

Since Wednesday, India has been sending COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles.

Apart from the free grants, India is also undertaking contractual supplies of coronavirus vaccines to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, and Morocco.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said supplies of coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance will be made to Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Afghanistan after getting confirmation of regulatory clearances.

"Acting East. Acting fast. Indian vaccines have arrived in Myanmar to contribute to our neighbour's inoculation efforts," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.

"Indian vaccines reach Seychelles. That's what friends are for," he said in another tweet.

India had earlier supplied hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, and paracetamol tablets, as well as diagnostic kits, ventilators, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to a large number of countries to help them deal with the pandemic.

With inputs from PTI

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