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EU urges quick WHO reform, asks for more transparency in pandemics

BRUSSELS, Oct 30: The World Health Organization (WHO) should be quickly overhauled, get more powers to handle pandemics and expose its member states’ shortfalls in health emergencies, European Union(EU) officials said on Friday.

The comments were made at a video conference of EU health ministers that endorsed an EU document on the reform of the UN agency which for the first time outlines a series of sweeping changes needed to boost WHO’s powers and resources, as exclusively reported by Reuters in September.

The moves followed criticisms that China and other countries did not share information on the Covid-19 pandemic in a timely fashion at its onset.

“The current pandemic challenges us very acutely, but it is very important that the (WHO) reform debate is held in parallel,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told a news conference.

He did not say when the reform process should begin, but stressed that as a result of the overhaul the WHO should become faster in its reaction to health crises, while its member states should share more information during emergencies.

“We greatly appreciate the EU’s strong leadership in global health and its steadfast support for WHO, including support for strengthening the organization,”WHO said, declining to comment specifically on the EU document.

“It is extremely important we move ahead with this reform,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told the same news conference.

After months of international pressure, an independent panel was set up in September to review the global handling of the pandemic. The process to reform WHO would begin after that, officials had said.

The EU draft document, which will represent their position at a WHO assembly in mid-November, urges the UN agency to make public more quickly how and whether its member states respect their obligations on sharing information on health crises.

The United States has accused WHO of being too close to China in the first phase of the pandemic, when critics say Beijing was slow in sharing crucial information on the new coronavirus which first appeared in the city of Wuhan.

WHO has repeatedly dismissed these accusations.

“Transparency on who complies with the rules is fundamental,” Kyriakides told ministers at the video conference, according to her speaking notes.

The draft document also says WHO countries should allow independent epidemiological assessments on-site in high risk zones during health crises.

Covid-19 pandemic was something as if the heavens fell, says CJI

NEW DELHI, Oct 31: Inaugurating India’s first-ever e-resource centre Nyay Kaushal in Nagpur, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde on Saturday said how the Covid-19 pandemic created a huge challenge for physical hearings and subsequent virtual hearings could not become a proper solution as it created a divide between those who could afford technology and who couldn’t.

“We tried to let the SC function in a restricted way but realised it wasn’t possible to safely continue court in that way... The pandemic was something as if heaven fell. A walk around the Court showed that no social distancing was being maintained. But there is an old saying in law that let justice be done though the heavens may fall. I’m very proud to say that along with my colleagues, we have managed to ensure that the rule of law is maintained,” the CJI said.

Talking about advocates who have ended their careers, who wanted to end their lives in the aftermath of the pandemic, the CJI said, “ know a case, where the advocate resorted to selling vegetables. Some states started mobile vans with portable Wifi, where litigants and Advocates can use the Wifi for hearings. It is time to remove these inequalities. This centre which we are inaugurating is the step in that direction.”

The centre that was inaugurated on Saturday will facilitate filing of online cases starting from district courts to the high courts and the Supreme Court. The internet speed in 300 MBPS, reports said and the hearing room has been made soundproof. There is also a waiting room.

UK accelerates reviews of Pfizer and Astra-Oxford Covid-19 vaccines

LONDON, Oct 30: The UK’s drug regulator has started accelerated reviews of Covid-19 vaccines under development from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, as Britain gets ready to approve the first successful shot as quickly as possible.

The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency started a so-called rolling review of the Pfizer vaccine in recent weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who didn’t want to be identified because the procedure hasn’t been announced publicly. The agency is also conducting an expedited review of Astra’s vaccine, which the company is co-developing with the University of Oxford, a spokesman for Astra confirmed.

Astra shares erased losses, trading 0.2% higher in London. Pfizer rose 0.5% in premarket trading in New York.

Rolling reviews allow regulators to see clinical data in real time and have discussions with companies about ongoing trials and manufacturing processes so that approvals can be granted more quickly. The approach is designed to speed up access to drugs and vaccines when there is a public health need.

The move supports the U.K.’s plans to potentially move ahead of the European Union on clearing a vaccine. While the U.K. is still subject to the approval process of the European Medicines Agency until the end of the Brexit transition process this year, the government has said that if there was a compelling case to move more quickly than the EMA, it would look at granting a temporary authorization for an unlicensed vaccine.

Pfizer declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the MHRA said the agency couldn’t comment on rolling reviews due to commercial confidentiality.

Pfizer and Astra are among a vanguard of vaccine developers that could have shots cleared for use this year. The U.S. company, which is co-developing its vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech SE, expects to release initial late-stage trial data next month and may apply for an emergency-use authorization in the U.S. shortly after.

Pfizer said this week that it hadn’t yet reached a key milestone that will help researchers know how effective the shot is. Astra and Oxford are also targeting publication of advanced-stage trial data this year.

Moderna Inc., another frontrunner in the vaccine race, also said this week it had started an expedited review of its shot in the U.K. Rolling reviews of the Pfizer and Astra jabs in Europe were announced by the EMA earlier this month.

Covid Vaccine Be Ready in December

NEW DELHI, Oct 28: The Oxford coronavirus vaccine produced by India's Serum Institute could be ready as early as December and the first batch of 100 million doses should be available by the second or third quarter of 2021, said Adar Poonawalla, chief of the Pune-based company.

"If we don't go for an emergency license, our trials should be over by December and then we can maybe we can launch in India in January subject to the UK trial also being completed which it's on the verge on being completed," Poonawalla said.

"If the UK in the next two weeks were to unblind their study and share the data and be confident that it's safe, then we can, after two-three weeks, apply to the Indian regulator to look at a possible emergency license if that's what the government of India wants," he said.

"That review could take about two-three weeks I imagine and then you can have a vaccine by December but all these would have to happen and I don't want to venture a guess whether that would happen or not happen because it's not my place to do so - that's for the health ministry officials to decide," he added.

Elaborating on the general availability of the vaccine, he said, "We are aiming for 100 million available doses at first. This should be available by Q2-Q3 of 2021."

Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine maker by number of doses produced, is working on several vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus - including the one from AstraZeneca-Oxford University that has garnered global headlines - as well as developing its own.

More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, with 38 in human trials, and candidates from Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc are already in late-stage trials.

There are no immediate concerns about the safety of the Oxford vaccines, Adar Poonawalla said, adding that though early indicators are all positive, it will take a year or two to be certain that the vaccine candidate will have a long-term effect.

"The vaccine is very safe. Thousands of people have had it in India and abroad so we're cracking on. On track with no safety concerns," he said.

"The vaccine, when we have one, will be a two-dose vaccine. The gap between the two doses will be 28 days," he said.

""It's going to be very affordable. It'll be a few hundred rupees and it's going to be way cheaper than even a test - a RTPCR test today or a rapid antigen test. The government will take most of that load on, financially, and that conversation is going on very well as well," he said.

Poonawalla also said that he expected the Serum Institute-produced vaccine to be much more affordable than the Sanofi-GSK and Moderna vaccines.

"If you go back in March-April, people thought I was crazy, my critics said that you don't know what you're doing, how can you go ahead with this. But the way I look at it is that if we don't commit to two or three principles in science and to these trials, we won't have hope in hell," he said.

The decision making took around 2-3 hours, not because of the finances, but because these decisions were technical and we had to see which candidate to invest in," he added.

India's coronavirus tally neared the 80-lakh mark on Wednesday, registering 43,893 new cases and 508 deaths in the last 24 hours. The country is fast approaching the US in total infections which is the world's worst-affected nation with more than 87 lakh cases.

With 5,673 new coronavirus cases, Delhi records its highest single-day spike

NEW DELHI, Oct 28: Delhi has crossed another grim landmark of recording over 5,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day. On Wednesday, 5,673 new cases of the viral infection were reported in the daily health bulletin.

The 4,853 cases reported on Tuesday were highest so far. Before that, 4,473 new cases reported on September 16 had been the highest number of cases in the city during the second surge. The city had seen the first surge in cases in June-July, when the union home ministry had stepped in to control the spread of the infection. An expert committee headed by NITI Ayog member Dr VK Paul had said that the number of cases in Delhi could go up to 15,000 a day during the winter months.

The positivity rate – proportion of samples that returned positive among those tested – also tipped over 9%. This happened for the first time since the first week of September when Delhi was conducting only about 20,000 tests a day.

Once the government tripled it to about 60,000 a day, the positivity rate had dipped. However, when the testing was scaled up, most of the tests were done using the rapid antigen method which is cheap, easy to deploy in clinics, and gives results in 15 minutes. However, it is also more likely to throw false negatives for people who might actually have the infection.

The number of cases in the city started increasing again in October as the government scaled up the more reliable RT-PCR tests. On Wednesday, over 17,000 RT-PCR tests were conducted in the city for the very first time.

“We are now testing people in a targeted manner. If one person tests positive, we are looking for all his family members and contacts and getting them tested. This strategy is being closely monitored. What we have seen is that if one person tests positive, usually several members of the same family test positive. This is the reason that the positivity rate has gone up,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain had said on Tuesday during a media interaction.

Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital unveils the largest comparative clinical study on stroke in Non-COVID and COVID patients

MMUMBAI, Oct 28: On the occasion of World Stroke Day, Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital has unveiled one of the largest comparative study of neurological deficit, morbidity, mortality and overall clinical outcomes of ‘Stroke in Non-COVID and COVID patients. ’While the risk of stroke incidence is only about 1.5% in COVID patients, they report poorer rate of recovery, functional outcomes and mortality rate as compared to their Non-COVID counterparts, the study reveals.

42 stroke patients, treated during May 1 to August 31 were analysed as a part of the study, ‘Stroke in Pandemic.’ Two groups of patients were divided equally, on the basis of their COVID status, age group and comorbid conditions for accurate clinical outcomes.

As per the study, 1.4% of total COVID patients suffered stroke as opposed to several international studies, suggesting the prevalence to be between 5% to 6%. However, post intervention functional outcomes—fluency in speech, limb movement and cognitive abilities were extremely poor in COVID patients. The Non-COVID patients who suffered stroke reported relatively better neurological and physical recovery with comparatively shorter recovery period and no complications.

While the experts found no radiological differences in the two groups, the ‘stroke in COVID,’ group reported higher levels of D-Dimer—a biological marker for blood coagulation.

Dr Pradyumna Oak, Director and Head of Neurology, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital and principal author of the study, attributed the differences in the two groups to missing the golden hour treatment window and infection induced systemic involvement.

“The study reinforces the importance of early diagnosis and intensive care in managing stroke amidst the pandemic. The understanding of increased D-Dimer levels and probability of stroke correlation, can further strengthen prevention of stroke in COVID patients,” said Dr. Oak

The study—coauthored by Dr. Priyanka Prabhu and Dr. Aditya Raheja will be replicated and extended to several other prominent stroke units of the city. “We have already tied up with prominent public and private hospitals of the city to replicate our study and confirm the findings in a larger patient pool. Consecutively, efforts to increase stroke awareness is a pre-requisite on the part of the medical community while spreading awareness about Covid-19 and its multifaceted effects,” Dr Oak added.

Covid-19 antibody response wanes over time: UK study

LONDON, Oct 27: The antibody response to Covid-19 virus wanes over time, said a new analysis released on Tuesday based on finger-prick tests on more than 365,000 randomly selected people in England.

The tests carried out at home between June 20 and September 28 found that the number of people testing positive dropped by 26.5% across the study period, said the researchers led by Imperial College London.

The downward trend was observed in all areas and age groups, but not in health workers, which could indicate repeated or higher initial exposure to the virus, the authors suggested.

The decline was largest in people aged 75 and above compared to younger people, and also in people with suspected rather than confirmed infection, indicating that the antibody response varies by age and with the severity of illness, the college said.

Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial College, said: “Our study shows that over time there is a reduction in the proportion of people testing positive for antibodies. Testing positive for antibodies does not mean you are immune to Covid-19.”

“It remains unclear what level of immunity antibodies provide, or for how long this immunity lasts. If someone tests positive for antibodies, they still need to follow national guidelines including social distancing measures, getting a swab test if they have symptoms and wearing face coverings where required,” he added.

The study used finger-prick testing to detect coronavirus antibodies in the blood. When present, they indicate that a person has been previously infected with the virus. The testing kits, called Lateral Flow Tests, detect antibodies above a particular concentration in the blood, and do not measure the amount of antibodies in a particular person.

The conclusions include findings from three rounds of testing carried out over a three-month period. There were 17,576 positive results across all three rounds, around 30% of whom did not report any symptoms.

After accounting for the accuracy of the test, confirmed by laboratory evaluation, and England’s population characteristics, the study found that antibody prevalence declined from 6.0% to 4.8% and then 4.4% over the three months.

This was found across all ages but the smallest drop was found in the youngest age group, aged 18-24, falling from 7.9% to 6.7% (14.9%), while the largest was found in the oldest group, aged 75 and above, declining from 3.3% to 2.0% (39%).

Helen Ward, one of the lead authors of the research report, said: “This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time. We don’t yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes Covid-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others.”

Modi cautions citizens on Covid-19 virus

NEW DELHI, Oct 20: Days before the start of an extended festival season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday warned citizens that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was still active and present in India, there was no vaccine yet, and citizens would be putting their own lives and those of their family members at risk if they were irresponsible about safety measures such as social distancing norms and wearing masks.

Modi, in an address to the nation, stressed that there was tremendous work being done — on a war footing, both globally and in India — to develop vaccines, some of which were in the advanced stages of trial. “The government is working on a plan to ensure that vaccines reach all citizens,” he said.

“But till there is no medicine,” he cautioned, “don’t let your guard down.”

The Prime Minister offered global examples — from the US and European countries — to suggest that any laxity could lead to a spike in infections. He also gave Indian examples, citing recent videos and photographs, to suggest that there was a pattern of growing carelessness and Covid-19 fatigue at home.

He asked citizens to spread awareness about the risks of the disease as an act of national service.

“This is not the time for carelessness. It is not the time to think that Covid-19 has gone or that there is no danger from Covid-19. We have seen videos and photographs in recent days where it is clear that people are either not following precautions or have been complacent. If you are being careless and are going out without a mask, you are putting yourself, your families, your elders and your children at risk,” he said.

The PM’s remarks – in a 12-minute speech that served as an advisory and appeal, rather than one that made announcements about measures or guideline – come days before the Vijayadashami festival, which often sees large congregations at pandals, especially in West Bengal. It also comes before other festivals such as Dussehra, Eid, Chatth, and Diwali, many of which are public festivals.

The onset of this period has brought forth tension between public health imperatives (which stipulate distancing) on one side; and religious traditions (where the expression of faith is often public), and economic considerations (this is a season which witnesses higher consumer spending) on the other.

Weighing in favour of public health needs, but with some degree of festivity and economic activity, the PM said: “From the Janata curfew (March 22) to now, Indians have traversed a long journey. With time, economic activity has also slowly picked up. A majority of us are coming out of our homes. There is activity in the markets too. But we must not forget that even if the lockdown has gone, the virus hasn’t gone yet.”

Saying that India had achieved relative success in the battle against Covid-19, Modi said that there was a “controlled situation” at the moment, but this must not worsen, and instead the effort must be to build on it. He cited data — 5,500 cases and 83 deaths per million in India against close to 2,500 cases and 600 deaths per million in countries such as the United States and Brazil — to stress that India has both a high recovery rate and low fatality rate.

India also, he said, now, had nine million beds for Covid-19 patients, 12,000 quarantine centres, and 2,000 labs; and is close to completing 100 million tests.

India has 7.65 million Covid-19 cases – the second highest in the world after the US, but its fatality rate of 1.5% is significantly better than most severely hit countries as well as the global average of 2.8%.

The PM pointed to the US and Europe, and said that after a dip in cases, there was a “worrying spike” in cases in these geographies again, and said that until there was a vaccine, there must not be any weakness in the battle against Covid-19.

The Congress said that that the Prime Minister should come out with concrete solutions to control the Covid-19 pandemic and revive the economy instead of giving “plain speeches”. After the PM’s address, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Modi government has “failed” on both the fronts and India has become the “Corona capital” of the world with the “highest” number of daily cases and deaths. “It is easy to give sermons. The country does not need plain speeches but concrete solutions,” he said in a tweet, quoting a phrase from saint Tulsidas.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “Addressing the nation for the seventh time since the imposition of the lockdown PM Modi brushed aside all shortcomings in the tackling of the pandemic claiming the governments handling as a success.”

“It is a very good thing that the Prime Minister raised the issue of the festival celebrations... even if festivals have to be celebrated, people should do so with their families within their homes rather than going out shopping or to crowded places,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital.

By February, 50% of Indians may have had coronavirus: Govt panel

MUMBAI, Oct 19: At least half of India’s 1.3 billion people are likely to have been infected with the new coronavirus by next February, helping slow the spread of the disease, a member of a federal government committee tasked with providing projections said on Monday.

India has so far reported 7.55 million cases of the coronavirus and is second only to the United States in terms of total infections.

But Covid-19 infections are decreasing in India after a peak in mid-September, with 61,390 new cases reported on average each day, according to a tally.

“Our mathematical model estimates that around 30% of the population is currently infected and it could go up to 50% by February,” said Manindra Agrawal, a professor at the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur and a committee member.

The committee’s estimate for the current spread of the virus is much higher than the federal government’s serological surveys, which showed that only around 14 per cent of the population had been infected, as of September.

But Agrawal said serological surveys might not be able to get sampling absolutely correct because of the sheer size of the population that they were surveying.

Instead, the committee of virologists, scientists and other experts, whose report was made public on Sunday, has relied on a mathematical model.

“We have evolved a new model which explicitly takes into account unreported cases, so we can divide infected people into two categories – reported cases and infections that do not get reported,” Agrawal said.

The committee warned that their projections would not hold up if precautions were not followed, and cases could spike by up to 2.6 million infections in a single month if measures such as social distancing and wearing masks were ignored.

Experts have warned that infections could rise in India as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali due this month and in mid-November, respectively.

Covid-19 could be under control in India by February: Panel

NEW DELHI, Oct 18: A government-appointed committee has said that cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India peaked in mid-September and the active cases can largely be contained by February according to mathematical modelling if preventive guidelines are followed, even as Niti Aayog member VK Paul said on Sunday that the possibility of a second wave of infections in the winter can’t be ruled out.

The remarks came on a day Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said community transmission of the disease was restricted to certain districts in some states, saying that “this is not happening across the country”.

For a month now, daily infections in India have been decreasing consistently – the first time this has happened since the outbreak started in early March. For the week ending on Saturday, India reported 63,025 new infections every day on average — a drop of about 33% from the peak recorded in the middle of September, and the lowest this number has touched since the middle of June.

“Our predictions show initially the number of cases was negligible around March, and then we entered this kind of an exponential growth rate and then it began to moderate, and it had peaked somewhere in the middle of September, and now it is beginning to wind down,” said M Vidyasagar, professor, IIT Hyderabad. He is the head of the 10-member government-appointed panel that conducted a study titled ‘Progression of the COVID-19 Pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts’.

“Bottom line being that the pandemic has peaked; however, this is not a reason for us to relax because this nice downward trend will be maintained only if we continue with the protective measures,” Vidyasagar added.

Professor Manindra Agrawal from IIT Kanpur said: “Looks like the daily active cases that are around 800,000 currently will drop below 40,000 by February-end if we continue to take safety measures.”

The committee developed an evidence-based mathematical model for Covid-19 progression. The ‘Covid-19 India National Supermodel’ was commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Statistical Institute, Christian Medical College, National Institute of Epidemiology, ministry of defence, etc.

Niti Aayog member Paul said on Sunday that the number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths have declined in the last three weeks as the spread of the pandemic has stabilised in most states.

Paul, who is also the chief of an expert panel coordinating efforts to tackle the pandemic in the country, said that with the onset of winter, countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases. “We cannot rule out (a second Covid-19 wave this winter in India). Things can happen and we are still learning about the virus,” Paul said. He stressed on Covid-19-appropriate behaviour during the festival season and winter.

The government-appointed expert panel also predicted that without the nationwide lockdown, deaths due to Covid-19 in India would have crossed 2.5 million. India’s Covid-19 deaths currently stand at a little over 100,000.

“Had India waited until May to impose the lockdown, the peak load of active cases would have been around 50 lakh by June. In actuality, the peak of active cases came in late September at around 10 lakh. By this time, we were far better equipped to handle the pandemic in terms of diagnostics and vital equipment inventories,” the panel said.

Epidemiologists also say that the disease appears to have peaked in India. “India seems to have gone through the first peak. Although we should only be reviewing at the state level to understand the dynamics of transmission in different phases. With the onset of the winter, it might be possible that vulnerable people who were safe hitherto can now be infected. We need to ensure that old-age groups and those with comorbidities are protected. We haven’t touched bear baseline levels and still a vast proportion of the population is susceptible,” said Dr Giridhara Babu, head, epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health.

Though the committee recommended that the existing personal safety protocols need to continue in full measure to ensure that cases do not rise again, it did not suggest imposing fresh lockdowns at district and state levels unless there was an imminent danger of the health care facilities being overwhelmed.

The Union health minister held an interaction with his social media followers on the sixth episode of “Sunday Samvaad”. “In different pockets across various states, including West Bengal, community transmission of Covid-19 is expected to occur, especially in densely populated areas,” he said during the event.

“However, this is not happening across the country. Community transmission is limited to certain districts, occurring in a limited number of states,” Vardhan said.

Move to reserve beds in private hospitals sought to mitigate Covid spread: Delhi health minister

NEW DELHI, Oct 18: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said the move to reserve beds for Covid-19 patients in several private hospitals here was to “mitigate the spread of virus” and those levelling allegations on the government were trying to “jeopardise efforts” being made for people’s welfare.

A plea in the Delhi High Court has challenged the September 13 order of the Delhi government, directing 33 private hospitals to reserve at least 80 per cent of their total ICU bed strength for Covid-19 patients.

“The decision to reserve beds for Covid-19 patients stems out of sheer concern to mitigate spread of virus. Those putting allegations against the Delhi government are trying to jeopardise the efforts made by us for the welfare of our citizens,” he said.

Jain made the assertion in a Facebook post and also shared a news article related to the issue.

The national capital recorded 22 Covid-19 fatalities on Friday, taking the death toll to 5,946, while 3,428 fresh cases took the infection tally to over 3.24 lakh, authorities said.

These fresh cases came out of the 58,145 tests conducted the previous day.

On October 10 and September 29 as well, 48 fatalities were reported in the city, the highest number of deaths recorded in a day since July 16, when Delhi saw 58 fatalities.

The tally of active cases on Friday slightly rose to 22,814 from 22,605 the previous day.

The number of containment zones in Delhi also slightly increased to 2,747 from 2,727 on Thursday.

The Delhi government has significantly ramped up testing in the past few days, with the count on several times crossing the 60,000-mark.

The government on Friday told the Delhi High Court that the policy decision directing 33 big private hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients was taken as a stop-gap and temporary measure with an intent to mitigate the surge of coronavirus cases in the national capital.

In an affidavit filed before Justice Navin Chawla, the AAP government vehemently denied that the decision, which was stayed by the high court on September 22, was in violation of any fundamental right of the citizens of Delhi and termed the petition by ‘Association of Healthcare Providers’ as wholly misplaced and baseless.

The high court granted one week time to the petitioner association, which claims that the 33 private hospitals against whom the order was passed are its members and sought to quash the order to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for Covid-19 patients, to file rejoinder to the government’s affidavit and listed the matter for further hearing on November 18.

The government has already challenged the single judge’s stay order before a division bench which has listed it for hearing on November 27.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the government, said there is a prediction that in the upcoming festive season, the number of Covid-19 cases will go up.

People with Type O blood may be less likely to get the coronavirus or develop severe complications: Studies

LONDON, Oct 16: People with O blood type are less likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, new research suggests.

However, blood types A and AB are at most risk and vulnerable to the infection. Two separate studies published in the journal Blood Advances on Wednesday, October 14 indicated that people with blood type O are also at lower risk of developing severe symptoms, including organ complications.

The studies were aimed at reasoning why the coronavirus is fatal for some, while others don't even get to know if they have had it.

The research papers added evidence that there may be a connection between blood type and susceptibility to COVID-19 but the researchers stated that more studies need to be done to better understand why and what it means for patients.

In the first study, researchers compared Danish health registry data from over 473,000 individuals tested for COVID-19 to data from a control group of more than 2.2 million people from the general population.

Among the Covid-19 positive, they found fewer people with blood type O and more people with A, B, and AB types. The study suggests that people with blood types A, B, or AB may be more likely to be infected with Covid-19 than people with type O.

The researchers did not find any significant difference in rate of infection between A, B, and AB types. "It is very important to consider the proper control group because blood type prevalence may vary considerably in different ethnic groups and different countries," said study author Torben Barington from the University of Southern Denmark.

In the second study, scientists examined 95 critically ill coronavirus patients in a hospital in Vancouver. They discovered that blood types A and AB were at a greater risk of severe symptoms than the O or B blood types.

The researchers noted that patients with these blood types (A and AB) were more likely to be put on mechanical ventilation, indicating that they had higher rates of lung injury from the virus - and dialysis from kidney failure. These patients were more prone to organ dysfunction or failure due to coronavirus.

Lead author of the study, Dr Mypinder Sekhon, of the University of British Columbia, said: "The unique part of our study is our focus on the severity effect of blood type on COVID-19."

Meanwhile, the scientists noted in the study, "We observed dis lung and kidney damage, and in future studies, we will want to tease out the effect of blood group and COVID-19 on other vital organs. Of particular importance, as we continue to traverse the pandemic, we now have a wide range of survivors who are exiting the acute part of COVID-19, but we need to explore mechanisms by which to risk stratify those with longer-term effects."


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