El Salvador getting its first vaccine from India

San Salvador (El Salvador): El Salvador’s government says the Central American nation will receive its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from India on Wednesday. The office of President Nayib Bukele says the shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive on a flight from India.

Bukele’s office says the first doses will be used to vaccinate health care workers. The office did not say how many doses will be in the shipment but says it will be used to vaccinate “thousands” of health care professionals.

The country has recorded about 58,000 coronavirus infections and 1,758 deaths from COVID-19 so far in the pandemic.

Posted in Investing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

No provision of insurance for recipients of COVID-19 vaccine: Ashwini Choubey, MoS for Health

New Delhi: There is no provision of insurance for recipients of COVID-19 vaccine against any kind of side effects or medical complications that may arise due to the inoculation, Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday. The COVID-19 vaccination is entirely voluntary for the beneficiary, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in response to a question on whether those administered/to be administered with the COVID-19 vaccines are insured against any kind of side effects or medical complications that may arise due to inoculation.

Measures have been put in place like availability of anaphylaxis kits at each vaccination site, immediate referral to AEFI management centre and observation of vaccine recipients for 30 minutes at session site for any adverse events so as to ensure timely corrective measure, Choubey said in a written reply.

“Also the AEFI management of such cases are provided free of cost treatment in Public Health Facilities,” he said.

On Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) arising from the use of Covaxin and Covishield, Choubey said till February 4, a total of 81 Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFIs) i.e. 0.096 per cent AEFIs cases have been reported out of total beneficiaries vaccinated with Covaxin vaccine.

For Covishield vaccine, a total of 8,402 AEFIs, i.e. 0.192 per cent AEFI cases have been reported out of total beneficiaries vaccinated, Choubey said in an another reply.

Most of these are minor AEFIs like anxiety, vertigo, giddiness, dizziness, fever, pain, rashes, and headache which are self-limiting and all people have recovered.

Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) of COVID-19 vaccines are monitored through a well-structured and robust AEFI surveillance system.

The surveillance system includes district, state and national level AEFI committees, he said.

The COVID-19 Vaccines Operational Guidelines on planning and implementation of vaccination roll-out have been shared with all states/UTs.

COVID-19 vaccination of healthcare workers and frontline workers is ongoing and the vaccination coverage along with AEFIs are being monitored regularly at block, district, state and national level.

Posted in PRO | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vitamin D inexpensive, low-risk and can strengthen immune response to COVID-19: Experts

New Delhi: There is no clinical evidence to prove low levels of Vitamin D lead to severe COVID-19 symptoms but there is a definite connect between the “sunshine vitamin” and immune responses to the disease, say experts as the pandemic spreads across the world and concerns mount over a new mutant strain.

Stressing that Vitamin D is inexpensive and has negligible risk when compared to the considerable risk of COVID-19, global researchers on the disease have asked governments to make it part of their strategy against the novel coronavirus.

Many factors such as age, being male and comorbidities are known to predispose inpiduals to higher risk from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, but inadequate Vitamin D is by far the most easily and quickly modifiable risk factor with abundant evidence to support a large beneficial effect, said Prof Afrozul Haq, former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Sciences and Technology (SIST) at New Delhi’s Jamia Hamdard University.

He is one of the 170 experts who earlier this month wrote an open letter on the matter.

Calling for immediate widespread increased Vitamin D intake, the letter posted on the website vitamindforall.org states that “research shows low vitamin D levels almost certainly promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths”.

“This campaign group of Vitamin D and COVID-19 researchers, including myself, started the process to write this letter for the purpose to make all aware about the benefits of Vitamin D supplementation in COVID-19 infected patients and sending this letter to all health ministries, healthcare workers, governmental bodies and NGOs,” Haq told .

According to the letter, which had 171 signatories by Wednesday, evidence suggests the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic sustains itself in large part through infection of those with low Vitamin D, and deaths are concentrated largely in those with deficiency.

“The mere possibility that this is so should compel urgent gathering of more vitamin D data. Even without more data, the preponderance of evidence indicates that increased vitamin D would help reduce infections, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, & deaths,” it said.

As debate on the matter escalated, immunologist Vineeta Bal added a note of scepticism, noting that most of the experts are based in developed countries where Vitamin D daily supplementation may be feasible, practical and affordable.

“But that is not the case with India. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in India. Regular supplementation is not part of standard recommendations, not even for pregnant women,” Bal, visiting professor at Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told .

“If inpiduals are heavily deficient, supplementation as recommended in the letter is likely to take weeks or months to achieve desirable levels of Vitamin D in the serum,” she said.

The scientist added that this cannot be considered an emergency measure, when the country lacks manpower and facilities even for the vaccine programme.

In her view, Vitamin D supplementation should be a long-term, non-emergency measure and something that could be useful in the COVID-19 scenario as well.

“Not just Vitamin D, other vitamins and micronutrients such as zinc have also shown beneficial effects,” she explained.

According to Prof Srijit Mishra, another signatory to the letter, the recommendation is Vitamin D intake for adults of up to 4,000 international Units (IU) or 100 microgrammes (mcg) daily. Those at an increased risk of deficiency due to excess weight, dark skin, or living in care homes may need higher intakes.

“The current evidence suggests that 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels over 30 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml), a test to measure Vitamin D level is a widely endorsed minimum to reduce COVID-19 risk,” Mishra, from Mumbai’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), told .

Bal said Vitamin D is generally known to have many beneficial contributions in immune responses, and added, “There are no reports, to the best of my knowledge, where there are radical improvements brought about by supplementation of Vitamin D in normal inpiduals.”

In her judgment, Vitamin D can have an additional role to play along with other medications but not a primary role. The linkage between Vitamin D and better immune competence does exist based on experimental data, and data on patients is almost invariably associative and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, she said.

While no clinical trials have tested Vitamin D’s efficacy as a treatment or a preventive measure, several studies have found an association between low levels of Vitamin D and COVID-19.

However, a review of five of these studies by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK concludes that the studies provide no evidence that Vitamin D levels influence the risk of getting COVID-19 or dying as a result.

“There is no evidence to support taking Vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID-19,” authors of the study wrote.

Mishra also noted that the evidence so far on risk-factors of COVID-19 with low Vitamin D level is associational, with some studies pointing out that low levels of the vitamin had a higher risk in infection and positivity rates.

He said a communication from UK-based NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health has brought out a 10-point summary on diet, nutrition and the role of micronutrients for combating COVID-19.

“The note identifies the relevance of various micronutrients, including Vitamin D. However, as the NNEdPro write-up clearly points out, this advice on nutritional adequacy should not be constituted as a substitute for key public health and medical advice on prevention,” Mishra said.

Posted in PRO | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Govt places second purchase order with SII for 1 crore doses of Covishield

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday placed a second purchase order with the Serum Institute of India for the supply of one crore doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’, each costing Rs 210, including GST, sources said.

The HLL Lifecare, a public sector undertaking, on behalf of the Union health ministry issued the supply order in the name of Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune.

The government had on January 11 placed an order for 1.1 crore doses of Covishield at a cost of Rs 231 crore, which has now risen to Rs 441 crore with the second order placed on Wednesday, a source said.

The government had on January 11 also committed to buy from the Serum Institute 4.5 crore doses of the vaccine, in addition to the first order of 1.1 crore doses.

India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines–Covishield manufactured by SII and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech–for restricted emergency use in the country.

Posted in PRO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

India host to 7,569 coronavirus mutants, shows study

(This story originally appeared in on Feb 20, 2021)

HYDERABAD: The novel coronavirus is perhaps the first infectious organism in recent times to form thousands of its variants across the globe.

In India alone over 7,569 coronavirus variants have been analysed since the pandemic virus was first recognised in Wuhan. This is despite the fact that not enough samples are sequenced by scientists in the country.

According to a research publication by a team of scientists from city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), there are 7,569 variants in circulation in the country.

Live updates: Coronavirus updates

CCMB scientists alone have far provided an analysis of over 5,000 coronavirus variants and how they have evolved.

“The novel variants that are worrying many countries globally have been identified with only a low prevalence in India so far. These include variants with immune-escape E484K mutation and the N501Y mutation with higher transmission rate. However, their apparent low prevalence might be simply because not enough sequencing has been done. More coronavirus genomes need to be sequenced across the country to accurately identify the emergence of these and other new variants,” said Dr Rakesh Mishra, director, CCMB.

Mishra, who is also corresponding author on the study, said a few novel variants are spreading more in some states. “We now have emerging evidence that N440K is spreading a lot more in southern states. Closer surveillance is needed to understand its spread properly,” he said.

Beginning with one variant about a year ago, the novel coronavirus has turned into numerous variants. For instance, a variant, A3i, had mutations that were predicted to make its spread slower. The study confirms that it was overtaken by the globally prevalent A2a variant, carrying the D614G mutation, by June 2020. The A2a variant has remained in global dominance for the major part of last year.

Posted in Investing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

COVID-19 vaccine to be given to people in Delhi for free once it arrives: Health Minister Jain

NEW DELHI: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to people in the national capital for free once it arrives, and asserted that the city government has made preparations for the vaccination drive.

Interacting with reporters during his visit to a facility in Daryaganj as part of a dry run exercise held here to assess the preparations for the vaccine roll-out, Jain said the system “seems flawless” as of now.

“I came to see the preparations as part of the dry run is being done. Three sites have been selected for it — GTB Hospital Shahdara, Urban Primary Health Centre, Daryaganj, and Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka,” he said.

All preparations are being done, and 1,000 vaccine centres will be set up across the city, the health minister said.

When asked if the vaccine will be free of cost, Jain said, “Yes, and in Delhi, the treatment and medicines are given for free.”

Vaccination centres will either be hospitals or facilities linked to hospitals, he said.

Asked what will happen if complications are noticed after vaccination, Jain said emergency rooms will be set up at the centres, and those getting the vaccine dose will be kept there under observation for half an hour.

The minister said the Delhi government has so far made preparations to vaccinate one lakh people in a day. Social distancing will be maintained, and people will be brought to the centres in batches, he added.

The Delhi government is fully prepared to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccine to 51 lakh priority category persons in the city in the first phase of vaccination, Jain said.

These include healthcare workers, frontline workers, people aged above 50 and those below 50 years but with co-morbidities.

Posted in Market | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Rajasthan government to bring Universal Health Care scheme worth Rs 3,500 crore: Ashok Gehlot

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government on Wednesday presented the Budget for 2021-22 and said it will bring a Universal Health Care scheme worth Rs 3,500 crore.

He said that from next year, universal health coverage will be implemented at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore, under which every family in the state will get medical insurance benefit of up to Rs 5 lakh.

“For the first time in the country, we are going to implement universal health coverage in the state in the coming year at the cost of Rs 3,500 crore,” Gehlot said.

A Bill on Right to Health will be introduced in the Rajasthan Assembly, he said.

Further, Gehlot said that his government has been farmer-friendly and it will present an agriculture budget separately from the coming year in view of better future and interests of the farmers.

In a first, the Gehlot-led Congress government presented its first paperless budget in the state assembly.

“The biggest challenge before us while making this budget was that despite the difficult economic conditions, there should be no shortage of resources for the development of the state. We are taking this resolution to mobilize economic resources with far-reaching thinking,” Gehlot said.

Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “The last one year has been very difficult for all of us. We have strengthened the health infrastructure in the state, turning this disaster into opportunities. Corona RT-PCR investigation facility has been ensured in all districts of the state.”

Gehlot announced a special COVID package.

He said that the government has provided assistance of Rs 1,155 crores at the rate of Rs 3,500 per family to 31 lakh helpless, destitute families during this pandemic.

“Now, I announce further assistance of Rs 1,000 as final instalment to these families in the coming year,” he said.

The chief minister announced the launch of Indira Gandhi Urban Credit Card Scheme for self-employment and employment needs of street vendors of urban areas and youth and unemployed people of all areas. Under this scheme, an interest-free loan of up to Rs 50,000 will be provided to five lakh needy people.

He announced a Rs 500-crore package for tourism development, which was severely hit due to the COVID pandemic.

The Chief Minister said, “to provide employment opportunities to the youth of the state, more than 50,000 posts will be recruited in the next two years.”

Every district will have a nursing college. Apart from eight existing nursing colleges, 25 new colleges will be opened, he said.

Candidates participating in competitive examinations will be provided free travel in roadways buses, Gehlot said.

Under the Jeevan Rakshak Yojana, Rs 5,000 and citation will be given to good samaritans who save lives in road accidents.

Gehlot announced increasing the unemployment allowance currently payable to eligible youth by Rs 1,000, and organizing the common competitive exam for some examinations in the state.

As many as 1,200 Mahatma Gandhi Government Schools will be opened in villages with a population of 5000, he said.

Posted in Market | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

89 lakh kids below 5 years given polio drops across India on ‘Polio Ravivar’: Health ministry

New Delhi: Around 89 lakh children under five years of age, as per provisional data, were given polio drops across the country on Sunday on the occasion of Polio National Immunization Day, also known as ‘Polio Ravivar’, the Union health ministry said. The vaccination was done at around 7 lakh booths which were staffed with 12 lakh vaccinators and 1.8 lakh supervisors.

“The booth activity will be followed by house-to-house surveillance (mop-up rounds) over the next two to five days to identify and vaccinate children who missed getting vaccinated at the booths,” the ministry said.

Vaccination teams have also been deployed at bus terminals, railway stations, airports and ferry crossing to vaccinate children in transit to ensure no child misses the life-saving dose.

All measures have been taken to ensure safety during the times of COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining coronavirus appropriate practices such as preventing overcrowding at booths, maintaining physical distance of two metres, wearing masks, washing hands and administering polio drops in well ventilated settings, the ministry underlined.

Speaking at a function on the eve of the National Immunization Day, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said, “Maintaining a polio-free status for 10 years is a huge accomplishment in the history of public health in India.”

He also highlighted government efforts and actions to strengthen routine immunization to ensure that no child suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease.

President Ram Nath Kovind had launched the National Polio Immunisation Day for 2021 by administering polio drops to children less than five years of age at Rashtrapati Bhawan on January 30.

India has been free of polio for a decade, with the last case of wild poliovirus reported on January 13, 2011. The country, however, continues to remain vigilant to prevent re-entry of poliovirus into the country from neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where wild poliovirus continues to cause diseases, the ministry said in its statement.

India conducts one nationwide National Immunisation Day (NID) and two Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs) for polio every year to maintain population immunity against wild poliovirus and to sustain its polio-free status.

Posted in Investing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

India third on list of countries with highest cumulative vaccination numbers: Health ministry

NEW DELHI: India is third globally, after the US and the UK, in highest cumulative vaccination numbers, the Union health ministry said on Thursday.

Till 8 am on Thursday, the cumulative vaccination coverage of healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) against COVID-19 in the country has crossed 94 lakh, the ministry said.

The daily COVID-19 positivity rate has also seen a constant decline in the last seven days. From 1.89 per cent on February 1, it has dropped to 1.69 per cent on Thursday, it said.

A total of 94,22,228 vaccine doses have been given to beneficiaries through 1,99,305 sessions till 8 am on February 18, as per the provisional report.

These include 61,96,641 HCWs (first dose), 3,69,167 HCWs (second dose) and 28,56,420 FLWs (first dose).

The administration of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination started on February 13 for those beneficiaries who had completed 28 days after receipt of the first dose.

The vaccination of the FLWs started from February 2.

As on day 33 (February 18) of the vaccination drive, a total of 4,22,998 vaccine doses were given across 7,932 sessions.

Of which, 3,30,208 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 92,790 received the second dose.

The ministry said 58.20 per cent of those who have received the second dose are concentrated in seven states while Karnataka alone accounts for 14.74 per cent (54,397 doses).

India’s cumulative recoveries have surged to 1.06 crore (1,06,56,845) on Thursday, the ministry said.

“Rising recoveries along with contained daily deaths have ensured a sustained fall in the COVID-19 active caseload,” the ministry underlined.

India’s present active cases (1,37,342) constitute just 1.25 per cent of the total infections with 11,987 patients having recuperated in a span of 24 hours, it said.

The distribution of new cases depicts a positive picture. Only two states have registered more than 1,000 new cases during the period, it said.

Sixteen states and UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, it said.

These are Delhi, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Ladakh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tripura, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh. In a span of 24 hours, only one state has recorded more than 20 deaths, the ministry said.

Kerala and Maharashtra account for 75 per cent of the new cases, 72 per cent of new recovered cases and 55 per cent of new deaths, it said.

According to the ministry, 85.14 per cent of the new recovered cases are concentrated in six states.

At 4,932, Kerala has reported the maximum number of single day recoveries while 3,853 people recovered in Maharashtra followed by Karnataka (537).

A total 12,881Â new daily cases have been recorded in a span of 24 hours.

The ministry said 86.61 per cent of the new cases are from six states.

Kerala continues to report the highest daily new cases at 4,892 followed by Maharashtra (4,787), while Tamil Nadu reported 454 new cases.

Meanwhile, 101 fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, officials said, adding that five States account for 76.24 per cent of the new deaths, it said.

Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (40) followed by Kerala (16) and Punjab (10), it said.

Posted in Forex | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IISER Bhopal Innovators develop a unique ‘Crowd and Mask’ monitoring system to prevent COVID-19 spread

Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal innovators have developed a low cost ‘Crowd and Mask’ Monitoring System, to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

Wearing masks is among the primary precautions adopted to prevent COVID-19 spread along with social distancing. With the Institute commencing the process of bringing students back to campus in phases, this AI-powered system will help to maintain a minimum of three feet of social distancing.

In an initiative to tackle the spread of COVID-19, Dr. P.B. Sujit, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, along with Dr. Mitradip Bhattacharjee and Dr. Santanu Talukdar, Assistant Professors, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr. Venkateshwar Rao, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IISER Bhopal, and BSMS Student Mr. Kasi Viswanath developed this AI-enabled device that can replicate manual policing to ensure the COVID-19 prevention norms are being followed.

“We wanted a simple advisory system to warn students of breaching social distancing norms at selected locations,” said Dr. P.B. Sujit.

To achieve the desired outcome, they used the principles of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) in a high definition camera attached to a microchip computer and a 5V battery in a 3D printed case to monitor the movement of people in the campus. If the camera detects that the social distancing and mask norms were not being followed, the device starts alerting the crowd with a pre-recorded message.

The innovators deployed the device at the campus in October 2020 and continuously improved it till it became stable with minimum false alarms. As a result, people have become sensitive to the social distancing violation and are following the safety protocol with more caution. The innovators are planning to open source the complete system along with a how-to-use tutorial for the betterment of society in such disruptive times.

“Given opportunity, this device can be deployed at various crowded public places to ensure that the basic safety rules are not violated in this tough time of Covid-19 pandemic,” feels the IISER Bhopal team.

Posted in PRO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment