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India Vaccinates Record 1.30 Cr In A Day

NEW DELHI, Aug 31: India achieved a new vaccination milestone today with the administering of 1.30 crore doses in the day. In total, over 65 crore doses have been administered so far in the country.

Today's figures on the Co-WIN website showed 1,30,82,765 doses have been administered so far in the day.

India had achieved the one-crore doses milestone for the first time on August 27 this year.

A total of over 65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far across the country, the health ministry said Tuesday.

Of the total 65,18,58,322 doses administered so far, 50,25,16,979 were first doses while 14,93,41,343 were second doses.

In the 60+ age group, 13.36 crore people have been vaccinated while 19.80 crore have been vaccinated in the 45-60 age group. In the 18-44 age group, 31.67 crore have been vaccinated so far.

Shortness of breath, fatigue, other long COVID symptoms can last a year for many patients: Wuhan study

Fatigue and shortness of breath still afflict many patients a year after their hospitalisation for COVID-19 , according to a new Chinese study calling for a better understanding of the pandemic's long-term health effects.

Around half of patients discharged from hospital for Covid still suffer from at least one persistent symptom -- most often fatigue or muscle weakness -- after 12 months, said the study published in British medical journal The Lancet Friday.

The research, the largest yet on the condition known as "long Covid", added that one in three patients still have shortness of breath a year after their diagnosis.

That number is even higher in patients hit more severely by the illness.

"With no proven treatments or even rehabilitation guidance, long Covid affects people's ability to resume normal life and their capacity to work," The Lancet said in an editorial published with the study.

"The study shows that for many patients, full recovery from COVID-19 will take more than 1 year."

The study followed nearly 1,300 people hospitalised for Covid between January and May 2020 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan -- the first place affected by a pandemic that has since infected 214 million people worldwide, killing more than 4 million.

The share of observed patients with at least one symptom decreased from 68 percent after six months to 49 percent after 12 months.

Respiratory discomfort increased from 26 percent of patients after six months to 30 percent after 12 months, it said.

It found affected women were 43 percent more likely than affected men to suffer from fatigue or persistent muscle weakness, and twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression.

But it said 88 percent of patients who worked before their diagnosis had returned to their jobs a year later.

The study adds to previous research that warned authorities in different countries they must be prepared to provide long-term support to health workers and patients affected by Covid.

"Long Covid is a modern medical challenge of the first order," the editorial said, calling for more research to understand the condition and better care for patients who suffer from it.

India Achieves New Single-Day Covid Jab Milestone of 1 crore

NEW DELHI, Aug 27: India achieved a new milestone in its Covid vaccination drive by administering over 1 crore doses today, its highest single-day count so far.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate the people for making the immunisation exercise a success.

"Record vaccination numbers today! Crossing 1 crore is a momentous feat. Kudos to those getting vaccinated and those making the vaccination drive a success," he tweeted.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the hard work of health workers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's free vaccine for all initiative is showing results.

Data on the CoWIN portal showed that 1,02,06,475 vaccine doses had been administered today.

Earlier in the day, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had tweeted that the 62 crore doses of coronavirus vaccines had been administered in the country so far.

As per the CoWIN portal, over 14 crore people in the country have received both doses of Covid vaccines.

Uttar Pradesh administered the highest number of doses today at 28.62 lakh, followed by Karnataka at 10.79 lakh doses, as per data on the CoWIN website.

The pace of vaccination in the country picked up following a policy reversal in June when the centre started providing vaccines free of charge to all above the age of 18 and took back control of vaccination from states.

The centre also started buying 75 per cent of the vaccines produced by companies, including 25 per cent assigned to states. Private hospitals continue to buy the remaining 25 per cent and inoculate those willing to pay for their jabs.

Walk-in registration was opened up to step up the pace of vaccination in the wake of concerns that digital divide and glitches on the CoWIN portal were proving to be hurdles in the immunisation exercise.

The country is now racing against time to fully vaccinate a significant part of the population by the end of this year in its efforts to prevent a third wave of Covid infections.

Covid hospitalisation rates for young adults hits record in US

WASHINGTON, Aug 15: Amid the surge of the Delta variant in the US, hospitalisation rates for the adults in their 30s due to Covid-19 have hit record highs, making it the "pandemic of the young".

New Covid-19 hospital admissions for patients in their 30s reached an average of 1,113 per day for the week that ended Wednesday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That average daily hospitalisation rate had jumped 22.6 per cent from 908 in the previous seven days, according to the CDC.

"All of these younger age groups that we previously thought were relatively spared from severe outcomes from Covid up to 50 years, those hospital admission rates are all moving upwards at a dizzying pace unfortunately," Dr James Lawler, co-director of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"So this is not only the pandemic of the unvaccinated in the US, it's a pandemic of the young now," he added.

The CDC data shows that thirty somethings made up 170,852 out of more than 2.5 million new hospital admissions for Covid-19 since August 2020, the report said.

The data shows that the seven-day average for new hospitalisations among those aged 18 to 29 reached 694 on Wednesday, up 20.7 per cent from 575 average the week prior. There have been 124,633 people aged 18 to 29 hospitalised since August.

The average daily hospitalisation rate for children under 17 also shot up a shocking 31.2 per cent, from 201 to 263, the CDC data shows. There have been 47,172 hospitalisations of minor children from Covid-19 since last August.

Children under age 12 remain ineligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine, while vaccination rates for young adults under 40 continue to lag.

CDC vaccination data trends show that only 49.6 per cent of adults aged 25 to 39 are considered fully vaccinated - while 45.1 per cent of adults aged 18 to 24 are fully vaccinated.

"It is not just a huge proportion of patients admitted to the ICU with Covid, it is also a much younger demographic than we've seen previously," Lawler said.

"And again, I think this is another myth that young people don't get very sick. And that is clearly not the case, particularly with Delta waves," he noted.

Clotting From Covid Shots Is Rare But 'Potentially Devastating': Study

BOSTON, Aug 12: Researchers say they're making progress in understanding a clotting disorder linked to Covid-19 vaccines that they describe as very rare but potentially "devastating."

The blood-clotting syndrome affected about 1 in 50,000 people under the age of 50 who received the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Almost a quarter of those patients who definitely or probably had the condition died.

The chances of death rose to 73% among those with a very low platelet count and other factors, U.K. researchers found. Cases of the disorder, called immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis, have declined since age restrictions were introduced in the rollout, scientists said Wednesday.

Researchers hope the findings will help countries that are relying heavily on AstraZeneca's vaccine to respond to the condition and decide who should receive the shot. The inoculation has been dogged by safety concerns that prompted some regulators to limit its use to older adults. The disorder can affect young, otherwise healthy vaccine recipients.

"What we have learned in the U.K. is hugely important to other countries," Sue Pavord, a researcher at Oxford University Hospitals, said during a briefing. "If they can recognize this condition and manage it promptly, they can continue with vaccination."

Data published in July showed AstraZeneca's vaccine doesn't raise the risk of the disorder after a second dose. The estimated rate was 2.3 per million in people who received a second shot, comparable to what's found in an unvaccinated population, but the rate after a single dose was higher, at 8.1 per million.

COVID-19 data confirms infections have risen globally for four consecutive weeks

GENEVA, Aug 4: COVID-19 infections have continued to rise globally for more than a month now, with over four million cases reported in the past week alone, the UN health agency said on Wednesday.

In its latest update, the World Health Organization (WHO) attributed the uptick to “substantial” caseload increases of 33 per cent in the Western Pacific and 37 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean – where coronavirus fatalities also rose 48 and 31 per cent, respectively.

The number of deaths in the four remaining WHO regions of Africa, Americas, Europe and South-East Asia was in keeping with previous weeks, apart from the Americas, which dropped 29 per cent.

Africa and Europe witnessed a two per cent decrease in COVID-19 deaths, while South-East Asia registered a three per cent increase, according to WHO’s COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update.

Overall, the total number of reported cases is around 197 million and with 4.2 million deaths worldwide.

Ranked by country, the United States topped the number of new infections over the past week, with 543,420 new cases, a nine per cent jump, followed by India, which had 283,923 new cases and a seven per cent increase.

Indonesia had 273,891 new cases, followed by Brazil’s 247,830 and Iran’s 206,722 new infections.

While Alpha variant infections have been reported in 182 countries, the Delta variant has been confirmed in three new countries, infecting a total of 135 nations.

Covid-19 cases rise for first time since second wave peak

NEW DELHI, Aug 4: After nearly three months of steady decline, daily Covid-19 infections in India have again started inching upwards, pushed largely by the high volume of daily cases in states such as Kerala where the outbreak continues to expand rapidly. Two more states, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, have seen their seven-day average of daily infections rise by over 75% from the lows seen after the end of the brutal second wave of infections.

The seven-day average of new infections, which denotes the country’s Covid-19 case curve, dropped to a low of 37,975 every day for the week ending July 22, but has since risen gradually with 40,710 new cases being reported every day for the week ending August 3.

While in absolute numbers, this may be a marginal increase in cases, each time such a reversal has occurred in India’s outbreak, it has marked a crucial turning point in the cycle.

The week-on-week change in the case curve has now been above zero for the past six days, the first time this has happened since May 10 — when the second wave peaked. A positive change in this number means an outbreak is expanding, while when this value drops below 0%, it denotes a contraction. The last time this number rose above 0% was on February 17, the statistical point from where India’s second wave started.

Meanwhile, the national average positivity rate – a crucial metric that shows the spread of infection – has also started slowly inching upwards, and has risen from a low of 2% to 2.4% in the past two weeks.

To be sure, this increase in cases as well as positivity rate (at least at the national level) has been very gradual so far, but it is a cause for alarm as it comes at a time when restrictions on several economic and social activities have been eased, and people and governments are becoming complacent.

The biggest centre of the outbreak in the country continues to be Kerala, which reported 20,337 new cases every day in the past week, accounting for nearly half of all new infections in the country. But there are plenty of other regions that are either seeing high levels of infections, or where cases are rising again.

The states in the country’s North-East continue to see large number of cases. To be sure, cases in the region have peaked , with three of the region’s biggest outbreak centres , Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya , seeing a decline in cases.

Two more states, however, appear to be taking their space. In both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the seven-day average of new cases has risen 76% from the lowest levels since the peak of the second wave.

In Himachal, the case trajectory dropped to a low of 95 new infections a day on average for the week ending June 23, but has again started rising and currently stands at 167.

In the same period, the numbers have gone from 34 to 60 in Uttarakhand. Both states, interestingly, have seen a massive influx of tourists in recent weeks as cases have abated across the country.

Even Delhi has seen a slight uptick in cases in recent weeks. The seven-day average of new cases in the national capital has gone up 26% in the past 11 days, data shows.

These findings were echoed in the epidemiological estimates by the University of Michigan’s Centre for Precision Health Data Science, which showed that India’s overall effective reproduction number (Rt) has climbed to 1.04. An Rt of more than 1 means an outbreak is expanding in a region, while that below 1 denotes a contraction. Kerala had an Rt of 1.23, while Uttarakhand had an Rt of 1.33. The Rt of Delhi, meanwhile, was 1.05.

During Tuesday’s Covid-19 media briefing, joint secretary of Union health ministry Lav Agarwal stressed it was too early to say the second wave has ended. He said that whenever R-number is above one, it means that the case trajectory is increasing and it needs to be controlled.

“As far as India is concerned, the second wave is still not over,” he said, adding that there are 44 districts, located primarily in Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland where the government is keeping a close watch on as they continue to have high positivity rates.

Experts warn that these regions cannot be treated as isolated islands of infection as an outbreak in one state can easily spread to another.

“This trend of a few isolated pockets of rising cases in some areas is something that we’ve seen before. Every wave has started like this with one or two states reporting cases, then it spreads to more, until the outbreak finally goes out of control... even more so in case of tourist states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. So it would be wise to prepare our strategies accordingly.

Governments should try to isolate these pockets by forming microcontainment zones in districts with rising cases and stop the chain of transmission immediately,” said Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research.

 

Johnson & Johnson withdraws Covid-19 vaccine approval proposal in India

NEW DELHI, Aug 2: Johnson & Johnson has withdrawn its proposal seeking approval of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in India, according to Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) sources. Johnson & Johnson has not cited any reason for the withdrawal yet.

The US-based company had sought approval in April to conduct a bridging clinical study of its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine candidate in India.

It was reported earlier that a few thousand doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine could arrive in India in July.

The US FDA authorised Johnson & Johnson's viral vector Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in February 2021. However, weeks after its authorisation, the vaccine was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.

Last month, Europe's medicines regulator added a rare nerve-degenerating disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome, as a possible rare side effect from Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine after it reviewed 108 cases reported worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the J&J vaccine's efficacy was 66.3 per cent for mild to moderate Covid-19 and 76.3 per cent for severe to critical infection. Additionally, it provides 100 per cent protection from hospitalisation for Covid-19 28 days after vaccination.

Johnson & Johnson has said its single-shot vaccine showed strong promise against the Delta variant and other emerging strains.

So far, four vaccines have been given Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in India - AstraZeneca's Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V and Moderna.

COVID-19 third wave scare: Rise in R-Value is cause of concern, says AIIMS Chief Randeep Guleria

NEW DELHI, Aug 1: As India grapples with the threat of third COVID-19 wave, AIIMS Chief Dr Randeep Guleria has warned about the rising 'R-Value'. R-factor refers to the reproduction rate, i.e. the number of people contracting the virus by one infected person.

In an interview to NDTV, Guleria raised concerns about the R-value of coronavirus spiking and stressed on the need to ‘test, track and treat’ strategy in order to curb the spread.

"Starting from .96, and going all the way up to 1, the rise in R-Value is a cause of concern. Simply put, this means that the chances of infection spreading from a person, who has Covid, to others have gone up. The areas which are witnessing this surge should bring in restrictions and employ "test, track, and treat" strategy to break the chain of transmission," he told the channel.

Guleria said the surge in COVID-19 infections in Kerala, which has been reporting more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases for the past few days, needs to be evaluated.

"In the beginning, Kerala had set a precedent for others by managing the pandemic well. They also had an aggressive vaccination drive. Yet despite that, are witnessing a spike in a way that's different from other parts of the country. This needs to be evaluated. Also, is there a variant behind the surge? Are containment strategies being aggressively followed - all this needs to be evaluated," the AIIMS chief said.

Further, he suggested that neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should also ‘adopt aggressive testing strategy’ in order to stem the transmission of the virus. Both these states have made negative RT-PCR report mandatory for people travelling from Kerala.

Guleria’s remarks come as India logged 41,831 fresh infections in the last 24 hours, as per Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data on Sunday. The weekly positivity rate stands at 2.42%, the ministry added. On Friday, with 44,230 new COVID-19 cases, India recorded its highest single-day surge in three weeks.

Study suggests Vitamin D supplements are ineffective for treating painful IBS symptoms

WASHINGTON, Aug 1: A new study from the University of Sheffield has revealed that Vitamin D supplements are not an effective treatment for easing painful symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The findings of the study appeared in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Scientists from the University's Department of Oncology and Metabolism - in conjunction with a health supplement company, BetterYou - carried out trials on participants who suffer from the chronic condition of the digestive system to assess whether vitamin D reduced the severity of their symptoms and whether it could improve their quality of life.

Results of the study found that despite an improvement in vitamin D status in the participants in response to a vitamin D3 oral spray supplementation over a 12-week trial, there was no difference to their IBS symptom severity over the same period, nor a reported change in the participants' quality of life.

IBS is a common functional bowel disorder, characterized by chronically relapsing perturbed bowel habits. It causes symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

For some, symptoms will come and go, but for others, it can severely affect their quality of life, often causing embarrassment leading to many living with the condition undiagnosed, affecting both mental health and wellbeing.

Carried out in collaboration with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the study also identified that although vitamin D supplements do not ease symptoms of IBS, a vitamin D deficiency is widespread amongst the IBS population, potentially leading to an increased risk of suffering from fractures and osteoporosis in the long-term.

Co-author of the study Dr Liz Williams, a Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition at the University of Sheffield, said: "There has been interest from researchers and from patient groups in the potential of high dose vitamin D to alleviate symptoms of IBS, but there haven't been many properly controlled trials in this area. What our research shows is that supplementing vitamin D at a safe dose did not reduce the severity of IBS symptoms."

"It is worth noting, however, that the vitamin D supplementation did correct deficiencies in those people who were found to have poor vitamin D status, and this is important for other aspects such as bone and muscle health," added Dr Williams.

Lead-author Professor of Human Nutrition and Health at Newcastle University and Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield, Bernard Corfe, said: "For some people living with severe IBS, low vitamin D levels may be attributable to changes in diet and lifestyle. Some may feel due to the severity of their symptoms that they limit their outdoor activities due to the anxiety their symptoms can cause, or alter their diet to avoid certain foods triggering their symptoms."

"Unfortunately all of these coping mechanisms can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing and reduce exposure to valuable sources of vitamin D. Given that vitamin D is essential for overall health and wellbeing, it is still important people with IBS get tested and treated and seek dietary advice so it does not impact on their long term health," added Corfe.

The research team at Sheffield was the first to suggest a possible link between people living with IBS and low vitamin D levels in 2012, and have since followed the issue closely. The study is the largest, and most definitive study to date showing clearly that vitamin D supplementation does not ease severe IBS symptoms.

Although little is known about why and how the debilitating condition develops, and there is currently no cure for IBS, further research is trying to identify better ways to support and manage people living with chronic conditions.

Professor Corfe added, "There is a range of management strategies that people living with IBS can seek help with from their GP, but because of the heterogeneity of the syndrome, managing IBS can be trial and error for each individual patient."

"As it is estimated that between five and 15 per cent of the population could be living with IBS - some undiagnosed due to the anxiety and embarrassment their symptoms can cause - it is vitally important we continue with research to find new ways to diagnose, treat and understand the impact of IBS on the population," concluded Professor Corfe.

 


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