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If you have just recovered from COVID-19, experts say you don't need to join in on the rush for vaccination immediately

NEW DELHI, April 29: India is set to open COVID-19 vaccination for all above 18 years of age from May 1, and the registration for the same started on Wednesday.

According to experts, people who have just recovered from COVID-19 have to wait for 90 days until you can take the vaccine.
India is in the midst of a gruesome second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

India is in the midst of a gruesome second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and with vaccination being a key immuniser to the virus, people have been waiting for registrations to start. For the eighth consecutive day, India has reported over three lakh new daily COVID-19 cases.

India is set to open COVID-19 vaccination for all above 18 years of age from May 1 and the registration for the same started on Wednesday.

But if you have just recovered from COVID-19, you don’t need to join the queue. Well, at least not now. According to experts, people who have just recovered from COVID-19 have to wait for at least two months and upto 90 days until they can take the vaccine.

“COVID-19 has been devastating in the past few days, and many lives have succumbed to it. Initiating the vaccination drive for adults will mean lesser infections and spread, and a prompt immune response to fight the complications. Every eligible candidate above 18 years must be vaccinated, and a person infected with COVID-19 can be vaccinated between 6-8 weeks of his recovery from the infection,” said Dr Sharwari Dabhade Dua, consultant physician, internal medicine and endocrinology at Madhukar Rainbow Hospitals.

Many doctors suggested that 90 days after the recovery is ideal. The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that, “If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Those who have just suffered from COVID-19 and recovered, you have to wait for 90 days until you can take the vaccine. If you have taken one dose of the vaccine and then developed COVID-19, in that case you have to wait for 60-90 days from illness for the second dose,” Dr. Harish Chafle, consultant of pulmonology and critical care at Global Hospitals in Mumbai told Business Insider.

Dr. Chafle explained that if you have got COVID-19, you will naturally develop antibodies that will protect you from infection. “There is no point in getting a vaccine immediately when you already have a good natural immunity,” he said.

Govt revises guidelines for home isolation of mild, asymptomatic Covid cases

NEW DELHI, April 29: 'The patients who are clinically assigned to be mild, asymptomatic are recommended for home isolation,' official statement said.

The health ministry says that decision to administer Remdesivir or any other investigational therapy must be taken by a medical professional and administered only in a hospital setting

Amid a massive surge in novel coronavirus cases in the country resulting in shortage of beds, oxygen supply in hospitals, and isolation centers, the Union health ministry on Thursday revised the home isolation rules of mild and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients.

"As per the guidelines, the patients who are clinically assigned to be mild /asymptomatic are recommended for home isolation," an official statement said.

Here is a complete guide for home isolation as released by health ministry:

Patients eligible for home isolation:

i. The patient should be clinically assigned as mild/ asymptomatic case by the treating Medical Officer.

ii. Such cases should have the requisite facility at their residence for self-isolation and for quarantining the family contacts.

iii. A caregiver should be available to provide care on 24 x7 basis. A communication link between the caregiver and hospital is a prerequisite for the entire duration of home isolation.

iv. Elderly patients aged more than 60 years and those with co-morbid conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Heart disease, Chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease, Cerebro-vascular disease etc shall only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer.

v. Patients suffering from immune-compromised status (HIV, Transplant recipients, Cancer therapy etc.) are not recommended for home isolation and shall only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer.

vi. The caregiver and all close contacts of such cases should take Hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.

Instructions for the patient:

i. Patient must isolate himself from other household members, stay in the identified room and away from other people in home, especially elderlies and those with co-morbid conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, renal disease etc.

ii. The patient should be kept in a well-ventilated room with cross ventilation and windows should be kept open to allow fresh air to come in.

iii. Patient should at all times use triple layer medical mask. Discard mask after 8 hours of use or earlier if they become wet or visibly soiled. In the event of care giver entering the room, both care giver and patient may consider using N 95 mask.

iv. Mask should be discarded only after disinfecting it with 1% Sodium Hypochlorite.

v. Patient must take rest and drink lot of fluids to maintain adequate hydration.

vi. Follow respiratory etiquettes at all times.

vii. Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 40 seconds or clean with alcohol-based sanitizer.

viii. Don’t share personal items with other people in the household.

ix. Ensure cleaning of surfaces in the room that are touched often (tabletops, doorknobs, handles, etc.) with 1% hypochlorite solution.

x. Self-monitoring of blood oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter is strongly advised.

xi. The patient will self-monitor his/her health with daily temperature monitoring and report promptly if any deterioration of symptom as given below is noticed.

When to seek medical attention:

Patient / Care giver will keep monitoring their health. Immediate medical attention must be sought if serious signs or symptoms develop. These could include:

i. Difficulty in breathing,

ii. Dip in oxygen saturation (SpO2 < 94% on room air)

iii. Persistent pain/pressure in the chest,

iv. Mental confusion or inability to arouse

Treatment for patients with mild /asymptomatic disease in home isolation:

i. Patients must be in communication with a treating physician and promptly report in case of any deterioration.

ii. Continue the medications for other co-morbid illness after consulting the treating physician.

iii. Patients to follow symptomatic management for fever, running nose and cough, as warranted.

iv. Patients may perform warm water gargles or take steam inhalation twice a day.

v. If fever is not controlled with a maximum dose of Tab. Paracetamol 650mg four times a day, consult

the treating doctor who may consider advising other drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (ex: Tab. Naproxen 250 mg twice a day).

vi. Consider Tab Ivermectin (200 mcg/kg once a day, to be taken empty stomach) for 3 to 5 days.

vii. Inhalational Budesonide (given via inhalers with spacer at a dose of 800 mcg twice daily for 5 to 7days) to be given if symptoms (fever and/or cough) are persistent beyond 5 days of disease onset.

viii. The decision to administer Remdesivir or any other investigational therapy must be taken by a medical professional and administered only in a hospital setting. Do not attempt to procure or administer Remdesivir at home.

ix. Systemic oral steroids not indicated in mild disease. If symptoms persist beyond 7 days (persistent fever, worsening cough etc.) consult the treating doctor for treatment with low dose oral steroids.

x. In case of falling oxygen saturation or shortness of breath, the person should require hospital admission and seek immediate consultation of their treating physician/surveillance team.

When to discontinue home isolation

"Patient under home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days have passed from onset of symptoms (or from date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and no fever for 3 days. There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over," says health ministry.

Meanwhile, as many as 3,79,257 more people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative caseload to 1,83,76,524, said the Union health ministry on Thursday morning.

This is the biggest spike in new cases the country has see as it continues to reel under an alarming second wave.

The country has been seeing a huge spike in daily fatalities too with 3,645 more people succumbing to the disease in the last 24 hours. The cumulative death toll in India now stands at 2,04,832.

O2 Concentrators, Ventilators, Surgical Masks: How the World is Pitching in to Help India Out of Covid Crisis

NEW DELHI, April 27: International aid and assistance continues to pour in for India as it grapples a disastrous second wave of coronavirus pandemic. UK, France, US, Saudi Arab and Dubai are among some countries which have expressed solidarity with India as the coronavirus tally breaches global records, overwhelming the healthcare infrastructure.

Among the countries that extended a helping hand in testing times for India, UK announced that it would send 495 oxygen concentrators, 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators to India this week. Out of these, 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators already arrived on April 27.

France on the other hand said it would send out assistance in two phases. In the first phase this week, eight large Oxygen Generating Plants, liquid oxygen 28 respirators and their consumables and 200 electric syringe pushers would be sent. In phase two, five liquid oxygen containers would be sent next week.

Ireland is to send 700 Oxygen concentrators this week, while Germany will send mobile oxygen production plants, 120 ventilators, over 80 million KN95 masks. Germany will also hold webinar on testing and RNA sequencing of coronavirus. AFMS (Armed Forces Medical Services) is also importing 23 mobile oxygen generation plants from Germany.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday said that Australia will send 500 ventilators, one million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

Kuwait and Russia have ensured to supply covid-19 medical supplies secured through private and other channels. And Singapore promised 500 BiPAPs, 250 oxygen concentrators, four Cryogenic Oxygen Containers and other medical supplies.

Via sea route, Saudi Arab will send 80 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen, while Hong Kong has pitched in to help with 800 oxygen concentrators. Thailand will send four Cryogenic Oxygen Tanks and UAE has assured six cryogenic oxygen containers.

Amazon teams up industry, NGOs to bring in 10,000 oxygen concentrators, BiPAP machines into India

NEW DELHI, April 25: Amazon India on Sunday said it has joined hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for COVID-19 Response (PPCR) and other partners to urgently airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore.

All the organisations are working closely with the Indian government to expedite the entry of these oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines into the country, Amazon said in a blogpost.

These medical equipment will be donated to hospitals and public institutions to augment their capacity to help COVID-19 infected patients across multiple cities, it added.

The first of these consignments will land in Mumbai on late Sunday night (on April 25) and a majority of the shipping is expected to be completed by April 30, it said.

India is registering a record number of COVID cases daily that has put extreme pressure on the healthcare infrastructure of the country. The number of new COVID infections touched 3,49,691 cases and 2,767 fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday at 8 am.

The massive rise in infections in the second wave of the pandemic has led to hospitals in several states reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. Social media timelines are filled with SOS calls with people looking for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors and ventilators.

The PMO on Sunday said that 551 dedicated pressure swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants will be set up in public health facilities across the country through PM Cares Fund to boost availability of the life-saving gas.

The PM Cares Fund has given in-principle approval for allocation of funds for their installation, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi directing these plants should be made functional as soon as possible.

Also, to make oxygen available to more people, the Centre has barred the use of liquid oxygen for any non-medical purpose and asked manufacturing units to maximise its production and make it available to the government for medical use. The government has also directed all major ports to waive all charges for ships carrying oxygen and related equipment.

Amazon, in its blogpost, said will bear the cost of airlifting these machines, procured through multiple funders including ACT Grants and PPCR, from Singapore to India, through Air India and other international carriers.

Additionally, Amazon will also manage the movement of these oxygen concentrators and other donations from the local airport to identified hospitals and institutions.

'COVID-19 has severely impacted India in unimaginable ways. We stand firmly with the country, deploying our global logistics network to urgently airlift the needed oxygen concentrators to support the nation's immediate need. We continue to explore other meaningful ways to help in saving lives and are committed to support the nation in this time of crisis,' Amazon Global SVP and Country Head India Amit Agarwal said.

Additionally, Amazon India is also procuring over 1,500 oxygen concentrators and other critical medical equipment that will be donated to hospitals and medical facilities in partnership with multiple non-profits including Swasth, Concern India and impact organisations like ACT Grants and Sattva Consulting, the blogpost said.

A clutch of founders of Gurugram-based startups have launched 'Mission Oxygen' to raise crowdfunding for importing oxygen concentrators.

The startup founders aim to raise a total Rs 5 crore to meet the demand of 3,000 concentrators. The group has already procured 500 concentrators from China which will be made available in hospitals by April 28 and another 500 are expected to be ordered by Saturday evening, a statement said.

The fundraiser has seen support coming from Bollywood celebrities including actor Taapsee Pannu, Abhishek Bachchan and Kunal Kapoor among others.

The initiative has been started by Democracy People Foundation and is being driven by Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Mansha Kaur of Heart On My Sleeve, Hubhopper founder Gautam Raj Anand, Rahul Agarwal and Varun Agarwal of Designhill, Rahul Hari of Satvacart, Uday Anand of Mycrushfit, Gautam Ghai of Sourcefuse, Cuttlfish founder Shikher Gupta among others.

Covaxin To Cost ₹ 1,200 For Private Hospitals, ₹ 600 For States

NEW DELHI, April 24: Bharat Biotech's Covaxin will cost ₹ 600 for state governments and ₹ 1,200 for private hospitals, the company said in a statement today. For exports, the COVID-19 vaccine will cost in the range of $15 to $20.

The other vaccine maker in the country, Serum Institute of India, will sell its Covishield at ₹ 400 a shot to states and ₹ 600 to private hospitals.

"Recovering costs is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccines such as Intranasal COVID-19...Our core mission for the last 25 years has been to provide affordable, yet world-class healthcare solutions for the globe," Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Krishna M Ella said in the statement.

The company said Covaxin is an inactivated and highly purified vaccine, making manufacturing expensive due to very low process yields. "All costs towards product development, manufacturing facilities and clinical trials were deployed primarily using internal funding and resources of Bharat Biotech," the company said.

India's new round of vaccination drive will start on May 1, and this time those above 18 can take the jab.

The centre has said states should try to register more private vaccination centres in "mission mode".

"The CoWIN platform has now stabilised and is working at scale flawlessly. It is equipped to handle the complexities of the new phase of vaccination starting from May 1," said Dr RS Sharma, chairman of the empowered group on technology and data management on COVID-19.

Sharma said it is important for states to upload correct and timely data as any incorrect data would compromise the integrity of the entire system. The centre asked states to pay "fair and regular remuneration" to frontline health workers.

The surge in Covid cases in recent weeks have led to what is now being called a deadlier second wave of the pandemic. Social media is full of stories of desperate people trying to find oxygen or a hospital bed for their friends and family.

More and more people this time are complaining of breathlessness, which needs oxygen support. However, the supply of oxygen has become severely limited due to the sudden jump in demand across cities and towns.

India Witnesses Record 3.46 Lakh Covid-19 Cases; 2,624 Deaths in a Day

NEW DELHI, April 24: A record single-day rise of 3,46,786 coronavirus cases pushed India's tally of infection to 1,66,10,481, while active cases crossed the 25-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday. The death toll rose to 1,89,544 with a record 2,624 more fatalities in a day, the data updated at 8 am showed.

With a steady increase, active cases in the country reached 25,52,940 and comprise 15.37 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 83.49 per cent. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease rose to 1,38,67,997, while the case fatality rate has dropped to 1.14 per cent, the data stated.

India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 last year, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of a total of 1.50 crore COVID-19 on April 19 this year.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 27,61,99,222 samples have been tested for COVID-19 till April 23 with 17,53,569 of them being examined on Friday. The 2,624 new fatalities include 773 from Maharashtra, 348 from Delhi, 219 from Chhattisgarh, 196 from Uttar Pradesh, 142 from Gujarat, 190 from Karnataka, 78 from Tamil Nadu and 75 from Punjab.

A total of 1,89,544 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 63,252 from Maharashtra, 14,075 from Karnataka, 13,395 from Tamil Nadu, 13,541 from Delhi, 10,825 from West Bengal, 10,737 from Uttar Pradesh, 8,264 from Punjab and 7,579 from Andhra Pradesh. The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

India records highest-ever Covid-19 cases by any country

NEW DELHI, April 22: The number of daily coronavirus cases in India hit a record high with over 3.14 lakh new infections being reported, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,59,30,965, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

A total of 3,14,835 fresh infections were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 1,84,657 with a record 2,104 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 43rd in a row, the active cases have increased to 22,91,428 comprising 14.38 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 84.46 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,34, 54,880. The case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.16 per cent, the data stated.

'My Wife Will Die': Man's Desperate Plea Outside Top Delhi Covid Hospital

NEW DELHI, April 22: Despite repeated assurances from the government on medical oxygen, vaccines and hospital beds, Covid patients and their families have got little relief as cases continue to soar. At Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital today, amid a huge traffic pile-up of ambulances and private vehicles, several patients - seeking urgent medical attention - were seen desperately waiting to get admitted.

Heartbreaking visuals captured the agony of dozens of people as officials said all hospital beds are occupied.

Among those who had to go through the struggle was Ruby Khan, 30. Her husband, Aslam Khan, drove her on a bike after three hospitals refused to admit her. Helpless and tired, Aslam begged to the hospital staff: "My wife will die. Please admit her."

"I am ready to even touch their feet. They keep repeating 'there is no bed'. Should I get her treated on the floor? How can I leave her to die?" Aslam said outside the hospital. He couldn't stop crying.

The LNJP Hospital is the national capital's biggest hospital for Covid treatment.

Some people waiting outside said their family members had earlier tested negative for Covid yet they were experiencing breathlessness and their oxygen levels had dipped.

After Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought the centre's assistance, Delhi's desperate oxygen crisis was the subject of a marathon hearing at the High Court on Wednesday.

Asking the government to ensure oxygen for those who need it, the High Court remarked: "Beg, borrow, steal... it's your job."

With India witnessing a frightening surge in Covid cases each day, the Supreme Court today sought a "national plan" on oxygen supply, essential drugs and method of vaccination from the centre. "We want to see the national plan on this issue," said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

Delhi has logged 9.3 lakh cases so far; over 24,000 cases were recorded since yesterday.

India has been recording more than 2 lakh infections everyday since April 15. This morning, the country recorded 3.14 lakh fresh infections in the world's biggest-ever daily surge.

Today, Arvind Kejriwal at a televised briefing said: "Centre increased our oxygen quota yesterday. We need more supply but we are thankful. I am very sure that if we fight against Covid together, we will succeed."

Nearly 3 Lakh Covid Cases, 2,023 Deaths: India Sees Biggest Daily Spike

NEW DELHI, April 21: Coronavirus has infected 2,95,041 people in India and left 2,023 dead in the last 24 hours, in a grim new record for the country.

The total number of deaths has increased to 1,82,553 after the huge one-day spike. This is the seventh straight day of over two lakh new cases in the country. India's tally of more than 1.56 crore Covid cases is the second-highest globally, behind the United States and ahead of Brazil.

Maharashtra - the worst-affected state - on Tuesday reported 62,097 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the tally to over 39.6 lakh. 519 more patients died of the infection.

After Maharashtra, the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have the highest number of infections.

Delhi on Tuesday reported 28,395 coronavirus cases as it registered its biggest ever single-day spike. After several SOS appeals from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Health Minister Satyendar Jain for oxygen supply at hospitals, some of the city's biggest hospitals received stocks of medical oxygen late last night.

We Understand India's Pharmaceutical Requirements: Biden Admin on Vaccine's Raw Material Supply Issues

WASHINGTON, April 20: The Biden administration has conveyed to New Delhi that it understands India’s pharmaceutical requirements and promised to give the matter a due consideration, observing that the current difficulty in the export of critical raw materials needed to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines is mainly due to an Act that forces American companies to prioritise domestic consumption.

President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump had invoked the war-time Defence Production Act (DPA) that leaves US companies with no option but to give priority to the production of Covid-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for domestic production to combat the deadly pandemic in America, the worst-hit nation.

Since the US has ramped up the production of Covid-19 vaccines mostly by Pfizer and Moderna so as to meet the goal of vaccinating its entire population by July 4, the suppliers of its raw material, which is in high demand globally and sought after by major Indian manufacturers, are being forced to provide it only for domestic manufacturers. Among other things, the DPA, that was enacted in 1950, authorises the president to require businesses to accept and prioritise contracts for materials deemed necessary for national defence, regardless of a loss incurred on business.

The issue received global attention in recent days after Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII), tagged President Biden in a tweet. Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up. Your administration has the details,” he tweeted.

The SII is the world’s largest producer of Covid-19 vaccine. Neither the US nor India has released details of the raw material that it is asking from the US. In recent weeks, India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has been taking up the matter with the Biden administration officials. During his meetings with the US interlocutors, the top Indian diplomat has sought a smooth supply of certain inputs for production of Covid-19 vaccines in India.

In addition, officials from the two sides have held discussions to ease the supply of critical materials, considering their increased requirements in both the US and India. US side has clarified that there are no export restrictions on such items and that domestic regulations have only prioritised use of these materials for production of vaccines in the US, sources familiar with the conversations said.

Vaccine For All Above 18 Starting May 1 in India

NEW DELHI, April 19: Vaccinations will be widened to everyone above 18 in the next stage beginning May 1, the government announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings today.

All adults will be vaccinated in "a liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination", the government said in a statement on a day India reported a new record high of 2.73 lakh cases in a day.

Delhi will be under complete curfew from tonight to next Monday morning amid a record rise in coronavirus cases that has severely strained the city's resources and health infrastructure.

All private offices will Work From Home and only government offices and essential services will be open, sources say.

A weekend curfew was on in the capital to "break the chain of transmission" but continuing violations in parts of the city signaled that harsher steps were needed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding a meeting to discuss the coronavirus crisis in the country as India battles an unprecedented surge in cases that saw a new record daily high today with over 2.73 lakh fresh infections.

India's total tally of COVID-19 cases crossed 1.50 crore with a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases surpassed the 19-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

The total tally of COVID-19 cases mounted to 1,50,61,919 and the death count increased to 1,78,769 with a record 1,619 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 40th day in a row, the active cases have increased to 19,29,329 comprising 12.81 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 86 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,29,53,821, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.19 per cent, the data stated.

Meanwhile, amid a crippling shortage of life-saving medical oxygen in many Covid-hit parts of the country, Union Minister Piyush Goyal has advised states to keep the "demand under control" by containing the rapid second coronavirus wave that has triggered an unprecedented spurt in cases.

COVID-19 Deaths Cross A Staggering 3 Million Globally: Report

PARIS, April 17: The global Covid-19 death toll passed three million on Saturday as the pandemic continues to speed up despite vaccination campaigns, leading countries like India to impose new lockdowns to fight spiralling infection numbers.

It is the latest grim milestone after the novel coronavirus surfaced in central China in December 2019 and went on to infect more than 139 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.

An average of more than 12,000 deaths were recorded globally every day in the past week, shooting the overall toll past three million at around 0830 GMT on Saturday, according to a tally.

For comparison, three million people is more than the population of Jamaica or Armenia, and three times the death toll of the Iran-Iraq war which raged from 1980-1988.

And the pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down: the 829,596 new infections reported worldwide on Friday is the highest number yet, according to a tally.

The daily average of 731,000 cases registered over the last week is also close to being a record.

India's capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world's second-most populous nation recorded 234,000 new cases and 1,341 deaths.

India now has three times the daily cases of the United States, the world's worst-hit nation, and families are clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.

Hopes that South Asian countries might have seen the worst of the pandemic have been dashed, with India recording over two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing new shutdowns.

Udaya Regmi of the international Red Cross said the "truly frightening" South Asian surge was a "wake-up call to the world".

"Vaccines must be available to everyone, everywhere, rich and poor to overcome this terrible pandemic," Regmi added.

Richer countries that have waged mass inoculation efforts have seen their virus numbers plummet. Britain, which has given 60 percent of the population at least one vaccination dose, now records around 30 deaths a day -- down from 1,200 in late January.

Thailand recorded its fourth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases on Saturday, with spiralling infections linked to a nightlife district of the capital Bangkok earlier this month.

Alcohol sales will be banned in Bangkok restaurants from Sunday, while entertainment venues will be shuttered across the country for two weeks.

In Japan, rising virus cases have stoked speculation that the Olympic Games -- postponed last year due to the pandemic -- could be cancelled.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden, said his government was listening to experts and doing its "utmost" to prepare for the Tokyo games in July.

The virus continues to impact events elsewhere in the world. On Saturday, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II bids a final farewell to her late husband, Prince Philip, at a funeral restricted by coronavirus and likely watched by millions from afar. The public has been asked to stay away because of the pandemic.

In Brazil, the country with the third-highest death toll in the world, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead.

One of these is Vila Formosa, the largest cemetery in Latin America and a showcase for the lethal cost of the pandemic in Brazil, where more than 365,000 people have died from Covid-19.

"We try not to get upset in our work, but it is sad, it is a lot of people," one of the gravediggers there said after a long shift.

Despite the high infection rate, the government of Brazil's most populous state Sao Paulo announced it will allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday.

But there was better news in Europe, where some countries are easing their lockdowns in response to not only fatigue, but falling infection numbers and progress with vaccinations.

Italy announced Friday it will ease coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants from April 26.

Expressing "cautious optimism", Prime Minister Mario Draghi said his government was taking a "calculated risk".

Italy will also allow up to a thousand spectators at outdoor events from May 1, when it eases its stadium fan ban in regions less affected by the coronavirus.

In more good news for Britons after the partial reopening of society this week, Germany on Friday removed the United Kingdom from the list of risk zones for coronavirus infections, meaning that travellers will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.

Spain meanwhile extended the mandatory quarantine of passengers arriving from 12 countries in South America and Africa, including Brazil and South Africa, over concerns about more transmissible variants.

Top Seer Ends Kumbh Mela

HARIDWAR, April 17: Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed that the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand's Haridwar "should only be symbolic" amid an unprecedented increase in coronavirus cases across the country, Swami Avdheshanand Giri - one of the top seers in the country - announced an early end to the month-long mega festival for Juna Akhara.

"Our first priority is the protection of the people of India (against Covid). In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we have performed the visarjan of all Gods. This is the end of Kumbh for Juna Akhara," he tweeted in Hindi.

The seer, in a video message, appealed to other seers to heed the Prime Minister's advice and only take symbolic part in the remaining two shahi snan or royal baths.

Thousands of people attended the Kumbh Mela that began on April 1 at a time the country has been logging over a lakh daily coronavirus cases consistently, triggering concerns that the religious congregation could make the Covid situation worse.

Earlier this week, a top seer died because of COVID-19 and many others tested positive for the virus after attending the festival, which was scheduled to end on April 30.

This morning, Modi spoke to Swami Avdheshanand Giri over the phone and made the appeal.

"I appealed that two ''shahi snan" (royal baths) have taken place and Kumbh (participation) should now be kept symbolic. This will give a boost to the fight against this crisis," Modi tweeted in Hindi.

Responding to PM's tweet, Swami Avdheshanand had replied: "We respect PM's appeal. Saving lives is sacred. I request people to not gather for the ritual bath in large numbers and follow all Covid protocols."

Before the start of the event, there were concerns that people coming in from several parts of the country amid the pandemic and then returning to their native places could turn the Kumbh Mela into a super spreader event.

The Uttarakhand government, however, had defended the festival, saying Covid guidelines would be followed.

Visuals showed hundreds of devotees huddled together in cramped spaces as they took the holy dip into the river Ganga.

Earlier this week, reports that the akharas - which wield enormous power and influence - had agreed to call off the Kumbh in the face of mounting health concerns and criticism were quickly dismissed. Officials insisted no talks had taken place, and that the Kumbh would continue as scheduled.

India has been witnessing a massive surge in coronavirus cases for the last few weeks. This morning, 2,34,692 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in the biggest daily spike so far.

Delhi facing shortage of Oxygen, ICU beds, Remdesivir amid Covid surge: Kejriwal

NEW DELHI, April 17: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said that the national capital is facing a shortage of critical components important in saving the lives of people infected with covid-19. The national capital is witnessing record daily rise in covid-19 cases for the last one week.

Arvind Kejriwal said in a media briefing that the COVID-19 situation in Delhi has become "very serious and worrisome", and oxygen, remdesivir and tocilizumab for patients are in short supply.

Kejriwal said," Delhi has a limited number of ICU beds. Oxygen and ICU beds are decreasing very sharply. We are taking several steps to scale up beds capacity.""Directions have been given to take strict action against people who will found hoarding or black marketing medicines," the CM further added.

According to Delhi CM around 24,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Delhi in the last 24 hours and he said that the Delhi government will keep a close eye on the situation for some days. If the situation deteriorates, the Delhi government will take whatever step is needed to save people lives.

Arvind Kejriwal said that no one knows when the peak will come. Central govt gave 4100 beds in November but this time only 1800 beds have been given. I requested Dr Harsh Vardhan to reserve 50% beds for COVID patients. In the next 3-4 days, the government will add 6,000 more beds, including 1,300 at Yamuna Sports Complex and 2,500 at Radhaswami Satsang premises, he said.

"We are receiving complaints that some labs are taking 2/3 days to give COVID19 reports to patients. The reason is that these labs are taking more samples than their capacity. Strict action will be taken against such labs that will not give report within 24 hours," Kejriwal said.

Delhi Friday recorded the biggest single-day jump of 19,486 fresh COVID-19 cases and 141 deaths due to the disease, according to data shared by the health department.

Religious & political activities; People's causalness causes of rapid Covid-19 spread in India: AIIMS director

NEW DELHI, April 17: 'We have to remember that no vaccine is 100% efficient. You may get the infection but the antibodies in our body will not allow the virus to multiply and you'll not have the severe disease,' highlights Dr Randeep Guleria.

As novel coronavirus cases in India surge leading to a massive second wave of the virus in the past few days, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria highlighted two key reasons for the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases all across the country.

Terming the cause of Covid spread as "multifactorial", the AIIMS chief said "The two main causes are - when in Jan/Feb vaccination started and cases went down people stopped following COVID appropriate behaviour and at this time the virus mutated and it spread more rapidly."

"This a time when a lot of religious activities happen in our country and polls also underway. We must understand lives are also important. We can do this in a restricted manner so that religious sentiment is not hurt and COVID appropriate behaviour can be followed," he emphasised.

He pointed out the worrying pressure on the healthcare system and availability of the beds adding, "We are seeing a huge strain in the healthcare system. We have to keep increasing our hospital beds, resources for the increasing number of cases."

"We have now a larger spike in Delhi as compared to 6-7 months ago. In terms of health infrastructure and containment, what we were doing in the past we need to do that again," he further added. So far, a UK strain, Brazil and South African variants and a double mutant of the virus have been reported in Delhi.

On the vaccination front, Guleria also informed, "We have to remember that no vaccine is 100% efficient. You may get the infection but the antibodies in our body will not allow the virus to multiply and you'll not have the severe disease."

Guleira's comments on the Covid-19 vaccine echo similar views from other experts. Amid cases of the coronavirus infection being reported post-vaccination from a few parts of the country, experts have said inoculation against COVID-19 "does not produce a shield" against the deadly virus, but helps reduce the severity of the infection and chances of death.

They have also said that "no causal link has been established" yet between vaccination and the complications suffered thereafter by a person through any clinical or epidemiological studies.

Covid-19 pandemic long way from over: WHO chief Tedros

GENEVA, April 13: The WHO chief noted that several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases. This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally

There have been now seven consecutive weeks of increasing Covid-19 cases and four weeks of increasing deaths globally, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Monday adding that the coronavirus pandemic is 'long from over'.

"In January and February, the world saw six consecutive weeks of declining cases. We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths. Last week was the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far," Tedros said during the briefing.

The WHO chief noted that several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases. This is despite the fact that more than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally, he said.

He again emphasied the public health measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, testing, contact tracing, tracking and isolation.

"Make no mistake, vaccines are a vital and powerful tool. But they are not the only tool. We say this day after day, week after week. And we will keep saying it. Physical distancing works. Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilation works. Surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care - they all work to stop infections and save lives," he said.

He added, "But confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures and their application are driving transmission and costing lives."

While citing "many countries around the world" have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with proven public health measures and strong systems that respond rapidly and consistently, Tedros said that the global body "does not warrant endless lockdowns".

India Clears Way For Foreign-Made Vaccines, Wants Applications Soon

NEW DELHI, April 13: The government has decided to fast-track emergency approval for Covid vaccines used in western nations and Japan, after the world's biggest surge in cases in the country. The plan is to increase the pace of vaccination with a bigger pool of vaccines.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

"We hope and we invite the vaccine makers such as Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and others...to be ready to come to India as early as possible," said VK Paul, chairman of the National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration.

Vaccines authorised by the World Health Organization or authorities in the US, Europe, the UK and Japan "may be granted emergency use approval in India, mandating the requirement of post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial", the health ministry said.

With this, companies will not need to conduct small, local safety trials for their vaccines before seeking emergency approval.

Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V has already been cleared for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India. Limited doses of the vaccine will likely be available by the end of this month or early next month.

Five more vaccines are expected to get approval this year. The list includes Johnson and Johnson (Bio E), Zydus Cadila, Serum's Novavax and a nasal vaccine from Bharat Biotech.

Since last week, several states said their vaccine stocks were running low. The list includes Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Telangana and Rajasthan. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, however, said Maharashtra were creating panic to deflect attention from its own inability to control the infection.

Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that there should be no political blame game on vaccination. "I told you that you shouldn't worry a bit if the number of cases is high. Don't be under any kind of pressure that your performance is bad," he said.

The country is also trying to step up vaccination with PM Modi's call for a four-day "Tika Utsav".

India had started the world's largest vaccination programme on January 16 and so far, more than 10 crore doses have been administered.

Over the last 24 hours, the country logged 1,61,736 fresh Covid cases, pushing the s caseload to over 1.36 crore. The number of fatalities went up by 879, taking the total death count to 1,71,058.

US Regulators Recommend 'Pause' On J&J Vaccine Over Rare Blood Clots

WASHINGTON, April 13: US regulators have recommended a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine over reports of a "rare and severe type of blood clot" in six out of millions vaccinated.

"Today FDA and @CDCgov issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson #COVID19 vaccine. We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution," US drug regulator Food and Drug Administration tweeted.

The FDA said over 6.8 million people had been administered the single dose vaccine in the US and the FDA and CDC (Centre for Disease Control) were reviewing data on six reported cases of a "rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare," it added.

The cases were being analysed and reviewed, said the FDA.

"Until that process is complete, we are recommending this pause. This is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot," said the agency.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is the first to be listed by the WHO as one-shot.

Studies have shown that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66 per cent effective in preventing cases of moderate to severe illness and 85 per cent effective against severe cases of COVID-19. It completely prevented hospitalizations and death four weeks after inoculation, according to studies.

Maharashtra Imposes Covid Curbs

MUMBAI, April 13: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today said that COVID-19 cases in the state are exploding dangerously. He said a total of 60,212 cases were recorded in the state today.

Several new restrictions have been announced by the chief minister, like Section 144 in the state for the next 15 days and curbs on non-essential travel, as the state struggles with a record spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.

Thackeray's address follows a meeting of the state Covid task force that he chaired on Sunday.

Maharashtra has been reporting the highest number of Covid cases for weeks. On Sunday, the state reported 63,294 infections - the highest ever -- but the cases dropped to 51,751 on Monday, apparently due to fewer tests over the weekend.

Here are the Highlights on what Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said:

We had good control over Covid till November-December. But now the war (against coronavirus) has begun again. And this time the cases are exploding dangerously. Today's cases are nearly 60,212 in Maharashtra.
We have been discussing with stakeholders but there is no solution.
1,200 metric tonnes (mt) of oxygen is produced in the state everyday and 900-1,000 mt is being used on Covid patients. Also, the demand for Remdesivir has spiked. But manufacturing takes time and we will ensure we don't face any shortage.

We have increased Covid centres, beds in hospitals, and ventilators. But now they are getting also getting over-burdened.

I am requesting PM Modi to ask the Air Force to transport oxygen to us if needed because by road, it will take time. Please use the help of the forces since this is an extraordinary situation.

We have once shown that we can control Covid during lockdown. We successfully brought down the cases in the past. We won't sit idle. We have to and we will win. We are increasing treatment infrastructure in Mumbai, Pune and Vidarbha.

We must increase vaccination to beat the next wave.
I appeal to doctors who have just graduated to come and help us. I am appealing to the health care workers to fight this battle. I am urging NGOs and other organisations to come forward to win this fight. Keep politics aside for now. If we all come together this time, we can win.

Unfortunately, I have to announce more restrictions. Now is the time for action. I'm not announcing a lockdown for now but strict restrictions need to be in place. More restrictions to come into effect from tomorrow at 8:00 PM.

Section 144 will be imposed across the state for the next 15 days. Unnecessary travel should be stopped. Except essential and emergency services, everything else will be shut in the morning from 7 AM to 8 PM. Public transport will function but it will be only for essential travel.
Essential workers are those transporting vaccines, farm produces, rail, bus, plane, medicine shops, journalists, cargo, warehouses. Rest please don't venture out.

Hotel and restaurants already have restrictions and take-aways will be allowed. Those selling food on the streets can sell from 7 AM to 8 PM but only after packing the items in takeaway parcels.

India overtakes Brazil as world’s second worst-hit Covid country

NEW DELHI, April 12: India has reported a record 168,912 COVID-19 infections overnight, data from the health ministry showed, overtaking Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the coronavirus.

Deaths in India stood at 904, taking the total to 170,179, data showed on Monday.

India’s overall tally reached 13.53 million, while John Hopkins University put the total number of cases in Brazil at 13.48 million. The United States leads the global tally with 31.2 million cases.

India has recorded more than 873,000 cases in the last seven days – an increase of 70 percent compared to the previous week, according to data compiled by a news agency.

In comparison, Brazil recorded just over 497,000 cases with an increasing trend of 10 percent from the previous week. The US reported just under 490,000 cases with a rising trend of nine percent.

India had surpassed Brazil in September last year to become the second-most affected country in the world by cases, but it slipped to third place after seeing a decline in cases until January this year.

The world’s second-most populous country has experienced a sharp rise in cases after several weeks of religious festivals, campaign rallies and lax mask-wearing.

While regional elections are under way in several states, tens of thousands of people have also gathered in northern Uttarakhand state for the Kumbh Mela or Pitcher Festival, a Hindu religious pilgrimage.

The spike in India, after daily rises in cases fell below 9,000 in early February, has seen many badly affected states and territories impose restrictions on movement and activities.

The federal government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second lockdown to protect the already devastated economy.

But many states are tightening the screws.

In worst-hit Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, restaurants are shut and public gatherings of more than five people banned after the state last week imposed a weekend lockdown and night curfew.

Maharashtra has also warned that a complete lockdown could be imposed within the next few days as cases continue to rise.

“The solution is for everyone to stay home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public doesn’t listen,” said Rohit, 28, a waiter at a popular Mumbai restaurant who moved to the financial hub for work from the northern state of Punjab.

“Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant… If we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.”

The chief minister of Delhi state, where a night curfew is in place, on Sunday said 65 percent of new COVID-19 patients were less than 45 years old.

His government was not in favour of a lockdown, but said it would consider imposing one if hospital beds start running out.

India’s health ministry said the surge has led to a “spike in demand” for the antiviral drug remdesivir, forcing the ban on its export despite a World Health Organization-backed study saying it has “little or no effect” on COVID-19 mortality.

Concerns over the side effects and effectiveness of tested and approved vaccines continue to rattle nerves elsewhere.

India administers 10 crore COVID-19 doses

NEW DELHI, April 10: India is the fastest country in the world to administer 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. India achieved the feat in 85 days whereas USA took 89 days and China reached the milestone in 102 days.

The Prime Minister Office tweeted “Strengthening the efforts to ensure a healthy and COVID-19 free India" along with the details.

India has scaled another peak in its effort to contain the COVID-19 virus with the administration of more than 100 million (10 Cr) vaccines to its citizens. The cumulative number of COVID19 vaccine doses administered in the country stands at 10,12,84,282 as per the provisional report 08:00 pm today.

The extension of vaccine coverage to those above 45 years along with the recent provisions for them to get vaccinated at their workplaces (govt and private) form a series of pro-active, collaborative and coordinated steps taken by the Centre and the State governments for safety and prevention of precious lives from the infectious COVID disease. This along with the efficient clinical management has thus far ensured that India has the lowest fatality rate in the world (1.28%).

The achievement is also a testimony of the ‘whole of society’ approach where individuals turned a deaf ear to rumours and propaganda of vested interests, shunned their vaccine hesitancy and strengthened the hand of the administration in curbing COVID-19. The vaccination exercise as a tool to protect the most vulnerable population groups in the country from COVID-19 continues to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.

India is also the fastest country in the world to achieve the 100 million vaccination mark. India is fastest compared to the USA and China, which vaccinated 100 million in 89 days and 103 days, respectively.

The 10.12 Cr figure achieved across 15,17,260 sessions includes 90,03,060 Healthcare Workers (HCWs) who have taken the 1st dose and 55,06,717 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 99,39,321 Frontline Workers (FLWs) (1st dose), 47,28,966 FLWs (2nd dose), 3,01,14,957 for over 45 years old to 59 years old (1st Dose), 6,37,768 for over 45 years old to 59 years old (2nd dose), 3,95,64,741for above 60 years (1st Dose) and 17,88,752 for above 60 years (2nd Dose) .

29,65,886 vaccine doses were given till 8 pm today, the Eighty Fifth day of nationwide COVID19 vaccination. Out of which 26,31,119 beneficiaries were vaccinated for 1st dose and 3,34,767 beneficiaries received 2nd dose of the vaccine as per the provisional report.

India had granted emergency use authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines — Pune-based Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd’s Covaxin which are being used in the government’s vaccination drive. The country started nationwide COVID-19 vaccination on 16 January with healthcare workers and frontline workers. The list included health workers, both from government and private institutions, along with sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces. In the next phase of COVID-19 inoculation drive commenced on 1 March, those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with co-morbid conditions were eligible for vaccinations. From 1 April, those who are above 45 were allowed to take coronavirus vaccine.

The expenditure was borne by the government in the first round of COVID-19 vaccination. During the second phase, the central government roped in around 10,000 private hospitals to ramp up COVID-19 immunisation drive in the country.

Those who opts for COVID-19 vaccination in the private clinics, will have to pay for their doses. Private hospitals functioning as COVID vaccination centres (CVCs) may recover a charge subject to a ceiling of ₹250 per person per dose. The vaccination are free at government centres.

Over 84 million Covid vaccine doses administered across India

NEW DELHI, April 7: India has administered over 84 million Covid-19 vaccine doses across the country by Tuesday even as the country continued to witness a spike in the number of daily active cases.

As per government data, 84,065,357 vaccine doses were given by 8pm on Tuesday. These include 8,960,966 healthcare workers who have taken the first dose and 5,377,011 who have taken the second dose.

As many as 9,730,304 frontline workers have been given the first dose while 4,268,788 of them have got their second dose as well.

Among the age group of 45-59 years, 20,051,197 have got their first dose while 396,769 have been administered their second dose as well. In the 60+ category, 34,418,802 people have got their first dose of the vaccine while 861,520 have had the second dose as well.

On Tuesday alone, India had administered 562,807 vaccine doses. Of this, 457,749 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 105,058 received their second dose, as per the provisional report.

Meanwhile, India set yet another record for daily cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), with 115,320 new infections reported across the country on Tuesday – the second time in three days that the country has broken previous single-day case records, highlighting the dangerous rate at which the second wave is growing.

The previous record for daily cases (103,796) was set on Saturday when new infections in the country had crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time since the start of the outbreak.

A total of 630 new deaths were reported across India on Tuesday, taking the total number of fatalities due to the viral outbreak in the country to 166,229, according to a Covid-19 dashboard.

India's Covid-19 tally surges past 12.5 million; active cases over 700,000

NEW DELHI, April 5: India reported 103,558 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and 478 related fatalities in the last 24 hours, which have pushed the country's infection tally to 12,589,067 and the death toll to 165,101, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare said on Monday morning.

On Sunday, there were 93,249 new coronavirus disease cases and 513 fatalities. The active cases of Covid-19 crossed the 700,000 and surged to 741,830, registering a steady increase for the 26th day in a row, the health ministry's dashboard showed at 8am.

The active caseload was at its lowest at 135,926 on February 12. With 52,847 patients cured of Covid-19, recoveries have risen to 11,682,136 and the recovery rate stands at 92.79 per cent, the data showed.

Official data shows that Maharashtra, which has clamped new restrictions to arrest the rising infections, and Punjab are the two worst-hit states in terms of their share in the total number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths across the country in the last fortnight.

Maharashtra added 426,108 Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks as of March 31 and Punjab added 35,754 cases in the same period. The growth rate of the last seven days for daily new cases till March 23 in Maharashtra was 3.6 per cent and in Punjab, it was 3.2 per cent.

Maharashtra and Punjab together reported around 60 per cent of India's fatalities of all deaths reported during these two weeks.

The health ministry has said 11 states - Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana - have been categorised as "states of grave concern" on account of their high and rising daily Covid-19 cases and higher daily deaths.

Seven UK recipients of Oxford jab reported dead after clotting

LONDON, April 2: Further cases of a rare blood clotting syndrome including seven deaths have been reported among recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab in the UK, although experts say the numbers remain low and the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any risks.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), runs a “yellow card” scheme to pick up suspected side-effects or other concerns for medicines and medical devices.

According to the latest figures from the MHRA, there have been 22 reports of a blood clot in the brain called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) that was accompanied by a low platelet count as well as eight reports of other blood clotting problems with low platelets, among recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab up to and including 24 March. Platelets are fragments in the blood that help it to clot. Of these 30 reports, the MHRA told the Guardian seven people had died.

However, such cases remain rare: the MHRA notes that by 24 March, 18.1m doses of the Covid-19 Oxford vaccine had been given.

There have also been two cases of CVST among people who received the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, neither of them accompanied by a low platelet count.

Concerns over rare blood clotting events have dogged the Oxford jab in recent weeks. The MHRA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have said it has not been proven that the events have been caused by the jab, and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, given the danger posed by Covid. But the EMA said a warning about such events would be included in the vaccine information while investigations continued.

The EMA says it has looked into 14 deaths reported by 22 March related to unusual blood clots in recipients of the jab, although not all of these were associated with CVST.

While many countries have resumed use of the vaccine after pausing their programmes, others have remained nervous. Among them, Canada has suspended use of the jab for people under the age of 55, while Germany has suspended routine use of the jab in the under-60s. The latter has noted 31 cases of CVST after giving 2.7m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 19 of which were associated with low platelets, and nine deaths.

At present, most of these rare clotting events appear to be occurring in women under the age of 65 – but quite why this is remains unclear.

Some have said CVST is more common in this group in general, while others have noted that countries such as Germany were initially reluctant to approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for older people, meaning most of the recipients were younger people, primarily healthcare workers and teachers – the majority of whom are women. This may also explain the apparent disparities between Germany and the UK, as the latter approved the jab for older people from the off.

According to an expert haematology panel whose guidance is being cited by the British Society for Haematology, blood clots with low platelets after coronavirus vaccination have been highlighted as affecting patients of all ages and both genders. The syndrome of blood clots and low platelets appears to be similar to a conditionsometimes seen in patients who have been given the blood-thinner heparin, they add.

Dr June Raine, the MHRA’s chief executive, said the agency was continuing to conduct a thorough review of the reports, but vaccinations would continue.

“The benefits of Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in preventing Covid-19 infection and its complications continue to outweigh any risks and the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so,” she said. “We are asking healthcare professionals to report any cases they suspect to be linked with Covid-19 vaccination via the coronavirus Yellow Card website.”

Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the new figures increased concerns about a possible causal link between the Oxford jab and CVST, but stressed that such events remained very rare.

“Risk of death is still much, much greater in people who are unvaccinated than in people who have had the [Oxford] vaccine,” he said. “It would not put me off my next dose.”

89,129 Fresh Covid Cases In India, Biggest One-Day Jump Since Late September

NEW DELHI, April 3: India added 89,129 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours amid a worrying surge in Covid cases that has prompted states like Maharashtra to consider lockdown. Today's surge is the highest since September 20 when 92,605 cases were reported.

Situation is of "grave concern" in Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Haryana, the Centre said after a review meeting on Friday. These states and union territories account for 90 per cent of the cases and deaths in the country, it said.

Maharashtra, which has been worst-hit from COVID-19 so far, reported as many as 47,827 new cases yesterday - its highest since the pandemic spread to India in March 2020. State capital Mumbai reported 8,648 cases in a 24-hour period, surpassing any previous high.

The possibility of a lockdown in Maharashtra can't be ruled out if the surge in coronavirus cases continues, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Friday. "People have become complacent. We are in a Catch 22 situation - should we look at economy or health?" the Chief Minister said in a televised address.

Faced with an alarming spike in Covid cases, authorities in Pune have ordered a 12-hour night curfew starting 6 pm today for a period of at least one week. Pune on Friday recorded its highest single-day high of 9,086 cases, taking its tally to 5,51,508.

Delhi is also witnessing a worrying surge in cases with the city recording 3,594 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest daily count this year.

In Tamil Nadu - which will vote in third phase of state polls on April 6 - 3,290 new cases were reported in a day, taking the caseload to 8,92,780. 12,750 people have died due to virus in the southern state so far. The state saw the cases cross the 2,000-mark on March 27, the 1,000-mark on March 19 and then touched 1,087, according to a health bulletin.

Situation is grim in neighbouring Karnataka too. The state reported 4,991 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 10,06,229.

The country is witnessing a worrying surge in cases amid a vaccination drive through which over seven crore people have been vaccinated so far.
"88 per cent of Covid-related deaths in our country have been in the age group of 45 years and above. Therefore, prioritizing vaccination for this age group is paramount to prevent COVID-related deaths," Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, said as the country opened expanded the inoculation drive to include the age group.

With 1.23 crore infections, India has the third highest number of cases in the world after the United States and Brazil.

ICMR study finds Covid-19 reinfection in 4.5% cases

NEW DELHI, April 1: In a worrying observation, an investigation by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found SARS CoV2 reinfection in 4.5% of SARS CoV-2 infected individuals studied.

The study titled ''SARS-CoV-2 re-infection: development of an epidemiological definition from India'' published by Cambridge in the Epidemiology and Infection journal, the investigation was conducted with the objective to develop an epidemiological case definition of possible SARS CoV-2 re-infection and assess its magnitude in India on over 1300 individuals.

"To conclude, a working epidemiological case definition of SARS CoV-2 re-infection is important to strengthen surveillance. The present investigation contributes to this goal and records reinfection in 4.5% of SARS CoV-2 infected individuals in India," the study stated. Taking available evidence into consideration, re-infection with SARS CoV-2 in the study was defined as any individual who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on two separate occasions by either molecular tests or rapid antigen test at an interval of at least 102 days with one negative molecular test in between.

49-yr-old man dies within 2 hours after taking first COVID-19 vaccine dose in Noida

NOIDA, April 1: In yet another shocking incident, a 49-year-old man died within two hours after receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine jab in Noida. This is the first such case of death after getting vaccinated in the district. According to the initial reports, the deceased identified as Samay Lal Yadav was suffering from several chronic ailments including hypertension and angina.

The Man Was Administered The First Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine Dose — Covishield

Health officials of the district have reported that Yadav was vaccinated at a District hospital in Sector 30 at around 10:45 am and was doing fine when he was allowed to leave the hospital. According to the guidelines — after vaccination, a person is required to be kept under proper vigilance for some time to ensure that there is nothing abnormal in the body after getting the jab.

“Samay Lal Yadav was fine after getting the vaccine dose and he left the hospital after the mandatory observation period. Yadav was reportedly given the first dose of the Covishield vaccine.

According to the media reports, Yadav was a resident of Nithari in Noida and by profession, he was a driver with a local school. Yadav is survived by two children and a wife — they all are currently staying in Madhya Pradesh.

Speaking to a leading newspaper, Yadav’s elder brother said that he was doing all fine after receiving the vaccine jab, but soon after reaching home Yadav started complaining about health complications. Yadav reportedly suffered from numbness in his hands and there was no sensation at all. Yadav’s brother also added that he discharged some white foam like liquid from his mouth before taking his last breath.

Health Officials Dismissed Vaccine As The Cause Of Death.

An autopsy was conducted and the health officials said that the death was not due to the COVID-19 vaccine jab — it was due to heart failure. During an autopsy, no blood was found in the heart of the deceased. Prima facie, it’s the cause of a heart attack,” a senior doctor was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for people aged above 45 in the country, began on Thursday. The inoculation drive is taking place at a time when coronavirus cases have again mounted in the last few weeks. The vaccines will be administered free of cost at government hospitals and health centres, while up to Rs 250 per dose will be charged at private health facilities.

COVID Vaccination Throughout April, Including Gazetted Holidays
Seeking to exponentially expand the countrywide anti-coronavirus inoculation drive, the Centre has decided to keep all public and private sector COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) operational throughout April, including on gazetted holidays.

The Centre wrote to all states and union territories on Thursday and asked them to make necessary arrangements for this, the Union Health Ministry said. “This step has been taken after detailed deliberations with the states and UTs on March 31 to optimally utilise all COVID-19 Vaccination Centres across the public and private sectors to ensure a rapid increase in the pace and coverage of COVID vaccination.

“This decision is in line with the graded and pro-active approach employed by the government of India along with the states and UTs for COVID-19 vaccination,” the ministry said.

“The findings may be a concern because the data was for only for 8 months 22nd January to 7th October 2020. This may be much higher or may be little lesser in the current scenario where we are seeing increasing fresh cases. That’s why it is very important to adopt protective behaviour even after infection or vaccination," said Dr Samiran Panda, head, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR, one of the authors of the study.

“The reinfection cases were earlier confirmed by only genome sequencing for which we need specific infrastructure which may not be available everywhere. With the new definition we can easily tab reinfection cases in India," he said.

The findings come at a time when the country is going through the second wave of infections, which is expected to be worse than the first one despite the ongoing vaccination, according to public health experts.
While covid-19 re-infection is still rarely reported, nonetheless, immunity should not be assumed and public health measures such as physical distancing, hand-hygiene, and use of masks should be followed after recovery from first event of infection, the study stated.

While SARSCoV-2 re-infection is still a rare phenomenon, the researchers said, there is a need for epidemiological definition of re-infection for establishing surveillance systems. The findings may be a cause of concern for the government as under India’s countrywide vaccination drive the cumulative number of vaccines doses are nearing 70 million. The inoculation drive was rolled out on 16th Jan 2021 with vaccination of healthcare workers (HCWs) and vaccination of the frontline workers (FLWs) started from 2nd Feb 2021.

The next phase of covid-19 vaccination commenced from 1st March 2021 for those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

Starting Thursday, the government also opened vaccination for all persons above 45 years of age irrespective of any comorbid condition. However, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Committee has been saying that the impact of vaccines in reducing transmission is yet to be known, the reinfection may pose hindrance in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“There is lot of uncertainty around the immunity produced by a natural infection. No vaccine is 100% effective, only exception being small pox vaccine. The currently available vaccines are able to reduce laboratory confirmed symptomatic cases of Covid-19, and also cut down severe cases needing hospitalization and death. But asymptomatic infections are a possibility," said Lalit Kant, a scientist and former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR.

“These vaccines were tested against the circulating strains of SARS CoV-2 when the clinical trials were done. With new variants now circulating in various parts of the world, chances of getting infection by another variant are there. Theoretically, re-infection after covid vaccination by same or a different variant is a possibility," he said.

Currently, there is no consensus regarding the working definition of re-infection, based only on epidemiological features; a resource intensive method like whole genome sequencing being the only confirmation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has considered the duration of 90 days between two positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA along with genomic evidence of re-infection as an investigative criterion to understand the phenomenon of reinfection.

Both CDC and European CDC suggested the use of genomic evidence for confirmation of reinfection, However, an epidemiological working definition will be more pragmatic and helpful to assess the magnitude of re-infection in most population and resource constrained settings.

In this archive based, telephonic survey, 58 out of 1300 individuals (4.5%) fulfilled the ICMR’s suggestive definition; 38 individuals could be contacted with healthcare workers accounting for 31.6% of the cases. A large proportion of participants were asymptomatic and had higher Ct value during first episode. Ct refers to the number of cycles needed to amplify viral RNA to reach a detectable level. A high Ct value may be and indicator of viral load.

The authors further suggested that the samples of healthcare workers may be stored for genomic analysis to study suspected covid-19 reinfections, particularly in resource limited settings as chances of them encountering such events are higher due to potential high-risk occupational exposure.

 


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