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Covid third wave inevitable… we should be prepared: India’s top scientific advisor

NEW DELHI, May 5: Even as India grapples with the ferocious second wave of Covid-19, the government Wednesday warned that a third wave of the pandemic was “inevitable”, although a time-frame for it could not be predicted.

“Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves,” K Vijay Raghavan, the principal scientific advisor to the Centre, said during a press briefing.

On Wednesday, India reported a record 3,780 fresh Covid fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 2,26,188. As many as 3,82,315 new coronavirus infections were also recorded at the same time.

Raghavan further pointed out that vaccines are effective against the current variants. “New variants will arise all over the world, as well as India, but variants that increase transmission will likely plateau,” he said, adding that immune-evasive variants and those which lower or increase disease severity will arise going ahead.

“Scientists in India and all over the world are working to anticipate these kinds of variants and act against them rapidly by issuing early warnings and developing modified tools,” he said.

The Health Ministry officials also said that the long Covid wave of such “ferocity” that the country was experiencing currently “was not predicted”.

On being asked if a nationwide lockdown was the only solution to rise in cases, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul said there was already a guideline issued to states to impose restrictions to suppress the chain of transmission. He added that more options will be discussed in case of a necessity.

The Health Ministry, meanwhile, said 12 states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have over 1 lakh active cases. It further said that Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar are among the states that have shown an increasing trend in daily cases.

The government also said that 24 states and Union Territories show more than 15 per cent Covid positivity rate. A rise in Covid deaths has also been reported in a few states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Haryana, the government said.

The Health Ministry also said that the liberalised policy for vaccination started on May 1, under which, 1, 6.71 lakh people in the age group of 18-44 years in nine states have been administered the vaccines.

Plan to increase Sputnik V vaccine production up to 850 million doses per year in India: Russian envoy

NEW DELHI, May 1: Expressing his happiness at the delivery of the first batch of Sputnik V vaccine to India, Russian envoy Nikolay Kudashev on Saturday said that the local production is about to start soon and is planned to be gradually increased up to 850 million doses per year.

Earlier today, a flight carrying the first lot of Russian vaccines landed in Hyderabad, Telangana.

"Happy to share that the first batch of the Sputnik V vaccine was delivered in Hyderabad today! As Russia and India continue dedicated joint efforts to combat the #COVID19, this move is especially important to support the Indian Government's endeavours to mitigate the deadly second wave and save lives," said Ambassador Kudashev

The Russian envoy also said that the efficacy of the Sputnik V in among the highest in the world, and this vaccine will also be effective against new strains of COVID-19,

"Its local production is about to start soon and is planned to be gradually increased up to 850 million doses per year. Look forward to further expand our bilateral and multilateral cooperation with India to stop the pandemic," he added.

Last month, the Drug Controller General (DCGI) had issued permission for Dr Reddy's Laboratories to import the Russian vaccine to India for emergency use.

The rollout of the Russian vaccine is expected to augment India's third phase of the vaccination drive which commenced today amid a record rise in COVID-19 cases.

Sputnik V is the third vaccine India has given the go-ahead to after 'Covishield', developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and 'Covaxin', the indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech. Covishield is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

Diplomatic sources had said that India will get a substantive number of vaccines in the first tranche and the supply will continue in instalments. India is expecting 5 million vials of Sputnik vaccines by the next month.

India first country to record 400,000 daily Covid cases

NEW DELHI, May 1: India has reported a staggering 400,000 new coronavirus infections in 24-hours – adding to a week-long streak of world record breaking numbers.

To battle the devastating second wave, Saturday should have marked the start of a vaccine rollout for hundreds of millions of over-18s in India. But most states are not taking part, because there are not nearly enough vaccines to go around.

Plans to begin vaccinating all adults are in disarray. Many states simply don't have any doses to give out. Only around one in ten of India's vast population has had even a first jab – the lack of doses made worse by administrative inefficiencies.

Oxygen and medicines are also in short supply. Pharmacies say there has been panic buying and hoarding and they are restricting supplies - only giving out oxygen cylinders to people who can prove they really need them.

Emergency care facilities are being set up. Sports halls, religious sites and catering facilities are being turned into makeshift COVID-19 isolation wards.

And the awful task of dealing with the dead goes on. In the capital Delhi, volunteers put themselves at risk collecting the bodies of those who've died.

An international relief effort is underway to help India fight its devastating second wave, but deaths and infections are still rising remorselessly and with not enough vaccines to go round.

WHO Lists Moderna Covid Vaccine For Emergency Use

GENEVA, May 1: The World Health Organization on Friday said it had listed the anti-Covid-19 Moderna vaccine for emergency use. The listing procedure helps countries unable to assess a vaccine's effectiveness themselves have access as quickly as possible and allow the Covax vaccine sharing scheme and other partners to distribute it to poorer countries.

The US vaccine is the fifth jab to earn WHO's emergency listing.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine on 18 December 2020 and a marketing authorisation valid throughout the European Union was granted by the European Medicines Agency on 6 January 2021.

WHO said in a statement that its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) had found the Moderna vaccine to have an efficacy of 94.1 percent.

The other vaccines listed for emergency use by WHO are Pfizer BioNTech; AstraZeneca; Serum Institute of India; and Janssen.

Moderna on Thursday said it expected to produce up to three billion doses of its vaccine in 2022 through new funding commitments to boost supply at manufacturing sites in Europe and the US.

India gets first consignment of SputnikV vaccine from Russia

NEW DELHI, May 1: India on Saturday received the first consignment of Russia's SputnikV COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

The CBIC in a tweet said that Hyderabad customs expedited the clearance of the COVID-19 vaccine imported from Russia. "Hyderabad Customs, @cgstcushyd facilitated expeditious clearance of #SputnikV Vaccine imported from Russia," the CBIC tweeted.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in tweet said: "Appropriate timely response @cgstcushyd. Need of the hour." The government last month allowed emergency use of imported vaccines to curb the spread of coronavirus infection and waived customs duty on their imports.

On August 11, 2020, Russia became the world's first country to register a coronavirus vaccine, dubbed as SputnikV.


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