Health Ministry writes to states, UT over surge in COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India]: Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday wrote to the governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, and Mizoram over the increasing positivity rate and cases and urged States, Union Territories to continue monitoring the spread of infection.

The ministry, in its official release, stated, “India has witnessed a sustained and significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past 2 months, with the country reporting about 1000 daily new cases for the past few weeks. The weekly positivity rate has remained below 1 per cent.”
“Recently, there are a few States which are reporting a higher contribution to India’s cases and higher positivity. This Ministry has advised all the States/UTs to follow a risk assessment-based approach on the opening of economic and social activities without losing the gains made so far in the fight against the pandemic,” it read.

The States and Union Territories are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, and Mizoram.

The States/UTs were advised by the ministry to continue monitoring the spread of infection and undertake the required steps for prompt and effective management of COVID-19. “The five-fold strategy. i.e. Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour with particular emphasis on wearing of masks in crowded areas should be followed,” the ministry said.

The ministry advised States/UTs to monitor clusters of new COVID-19 cases and undertake required containment efforts for curing the spread of infection. Further, the health ministry conveyed to States/UTs that adequate testing as per guidelines is required and further undertake required steps in areas reporting high case positivity rate.

Monitoring of Influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases in all health facilities on a regular basis for detecting early warning signals of the spread of infection should be focused upon by States and UTs, Bhushan said.

Genomic sequencing for prescribed samples of international passengers, collection of samples from sentinel sites (identified health facilities as well as sewage samples), and local clusters of cases also needs to be ensured, Bhushan informed.

The ministry advised ensuring COVID-19 vaccination of eligible populations including the primary vaccination as well administration of precaution doses.

The Health Ministry said that it is essential for States/UTs to maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action if required in areas of concern to control any emerging spread of infection. “Testing and Surveillance still remain important to track the virus, its spread and evolution,” Bhushan said.

The ministry pointed out that laxity at any level may nullify the gains in pandemic management so far. “Regular monitoring and prompt follow up action in emerging areas of concern is crucial. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will continue to provide requisite support to the States in this ongoing and collective effort,” the letter read.

India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases is at 4,30,45,527 on Tuesday, while the active cases increased to 11,860, according to the Union Health Ministry. (ANI)

COVID-19: Centre requests States, UTs to accelerate second dose coverage among 15-18 age group


New Delhi [India], (ANI): The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday requested States and Union Territories to direct concerned officials to accelerate the second dose coverage amongst due beneficiaries aged 15-18 years while ensuring that remaining beneficiaries for the first dose also receive it in a time-bound manner.

“I hereby request you to direct the concerned officials to accelerate the 2nd dose coverage amongst due beneficiaries aged 15-18 years while also ensuring that remaining beneficiaries for 1st dose also receive it in a time-bound manner,” read the letter by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to states and UTs.
The letter highlighted that the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme of India has been expanded in a phased manner based on available scientific evidence and global best practices and presently, all persons aged 15 years and above are eligible for vaccination.

With the proactive efforts of States/UTs, along with the Government of India, the Centre has administered more than 166.68 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine which is amongst the highest in the world.

COVID-19 vaccination for 15-18 years’ age-group started from January 3, 2022, and as on date, more than 4.66 crore doses have been administered in this age group resulting in the first dose coverage of 63 per cent in a span of less than a month.

The vaccine used in this group is Covaxin which has an interval of 28 days between the two doses to complete the primary vaccination schedule, read the letter.

The health ministry suggested that a tailored communication strategy focused at an adolescent population and their caregivers should also be rolled out to make them aware about the timely completion of vaccination schedule and sustain their vaccine confidence. Image (instagram)

India reports 1,61,386 new COVID-19 cases, 1,733 deaths in last 24 hour


New Delhi [India] (ANI): India on Wednesday reported 1,61,386 new COVID-19 cases and 1,733 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The country’s overall COVID-19 cases tally has reached 4,16,30885, while the death toll has mounted to 4,97,975.
India on Tuesday reported 1,67,059 new COVID infections and 1,192 deaths.

With this, the country’s active caseload mounted to 16,21,603, which is 3.90 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases reported so far.

The daily positivity rate in the country dropped to 9.26 per cent while the weekly positivity rate also dipped to 14.15 per cent.

According to the health ministry, as many as 2,81,109 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours taking the total recoveries to 3,95,11,307.

The recovery rate of the country is at 94.91 per cent.

A total of 17,42,793 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Over 73.24 crore tests have been conducted so far in the country, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, under the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, 167.29 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far. (image-kshvid)

West Bengal: Approaching all schools to participate in COVID vaccination drive for children in 15-18 age group, says TMC leader

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Under nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for age group 15-18, Kolkata Mayor Frihad Hakim on Monday informed that they are approaching all schools to participate in the vaccination.
Speaking to ANI, TMC leader and Mayor Firhad Hakim said, “We are approaching all schools to participate in the vaccination of children in the 15-18 age group. We have 37 vaccination centers where Covaxin is administered in the city.” COVID-19 vaccination for the 15-18 age group began on Monday morning across the country.
CoWIN registration for the age group had already begun on Saturday. As many as 12,57,603 children in the 15-18 age group have registered so far on the CoWIN platform to get vaccinated.
PM Modi on December 25, 2021, had announced that the vaccination for the age-group 15-18 years is scheduled to begin from Monday while administration of precautionary third dose for the vulnerable categories is to commence from January 10, 2022.
In the context of the vaccination of the age group 15-18 years, the Union Health Secretary informed the States and UTs that only ‘Covaxin’ is to be administered in this population category and additional doses of ‘Covaxin’ will be sent to all states and UTs. Those with the birth year of 2007 or before will be eligible for vaccination under this category.

Pakistan in News: Injecting lives to people amid Omicron fears

By KSHVID NEWS DESK with Inputs from agencies

Humanity suffered from the corona. But those who refused to take the vaccination were adding more suffering to people’s life. They were about to create a mess, which was previously created by others. How can a man refuse to get a cure for a disease? Is this even a logical discussion to have? But there are thousands of cases in the world where people refused to get shot of Corona Vaccination. While it was free of cost and effective scientifically proven.

Chinese are the inventors of Covid-19 as well as its vaccination. The origin of covid-19 was China, then they were the first who implemented lockdown, and in the last, they were also on the top of the list to invent vaccination. The rest of the world followed. Some were early adopters, some early majority, and some were the late majority. Many countries give incentives to encourage people to get Covid-19 vaccines. Pakistan is adopting a harsher stance.

Imran Khan launches Vaccination drive

Authorities in these 220 million-strong countries threaten those who refuse to take the injection with sanctions, from losing their cellular service to having their paychecks withheld.

The penalties are in stark contrast to the awards on offer elsewhere in the world. People who agree to be vaccinated in a Philippine village can win a cow if they agree to be vaccinated. Some states in the United States have cash lottery draws, while Hong Kong gives away a multimillion-dollar condominium.

Pakistan’s punitive tactics differ by location; health services are mostly the responsibility of the country’s four provinces, but the federal government has declared sanctions as well, all to sway a population that has long been skeptical of vaccines. Due to uncertainty about the polio vaccine, Pakistan has only two countries where polio remains widespread.

Haider Ali, a 26-year-old vehicle mechanic in Islamabad’s capital, says he won’t take the Covid-19 vaccine because he believes the coronavirus exists. Haider Ali belongs to the category of that person who is laggards. He neither believes in the hypothesis of Covid-19 nor is he willing to take the vaccination. These types of people are fewer, but yes, they do exist. In Pakistan, there might be more laggards than any other category.

“I’ve never worn a mask in my life.” Mr. Ali, who has one child, said, “I meet a hundred individuals a day, and nothing has happened to me.” “If they force us to take this vaccination, that suggests they have a secret motive.” It appears to be a high-level plot.”

Doctors are working day and night to vaccinate the citizens.

Like many other underdeveloped countries, Pakistan has struggled to get adequate vaccination supplies. It has received 16 million doses, largely from China. It has administered 13 million, meaning that the country’s 125 million adults would not be able to get vaccinated even if they all came forward right away. However, vaccination rates are increasing, with 2.3 million shots last week.

Pakistan’s health minister, Faisal Sultan, stated that the government wants to obtain an extra 90 million doses by the end of the year and immunize more than half of the adult population. More Chinese vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V, Pfizer Inc., and BioNTech SE vaccines are discussed. The government played the role of early adopters because the covid-19 situation panicked every higher authority in this world.

The federal government’s primary objective, according to Dr. Sultan, is to educate people about the need for vaccinations: “The essential lever is communication and education, as well as the removal of doubts.” He said that vaccination requirements would be the last resort while provinces have the authority to set their policies.

All government and private-sector personnel would be required to be vaccinated; the administration announced earlier this month. It gave the former a deadline of the end of June but hasn’t given the latter one or specified how the demands will be implemented. Travel to the northern mountains, a popular route to escape the summer heat, will be prohibited for those aged 50 and over who have not been vaccinated.

Anyone over 18 can now get vaccinated in Pakistan, yet official numbers show that only about 6% of people have received the first injection. According to Our World in Data, an Oxford University study, this contrasts to more than a quarter of the people of Brazil, whose population is around the same size and more than half of Americans.

While Pakistan’s pandemic was relatively mild, 22,000 deaths compared to half a million in Brazil—the country’s low immunization rate leaves the people vulnerable if another wave like the one that ravaged neighboring India strikes.

According to polls, fear of side effects and questions about effectiveness are the major reasons individuals aren’t getting vaccinated. According to a Gallup Pakistan poll conducted in March, about two-thirds of Pakistanis believe the threat posed by the coronavirus is exaggerated, while many others aren’t concerned about catching it or believe that natural immunity is preferable. According to a recent Ipsos poll, 68 percent don’t register for vaccinations.

“If you don’t get vaccinated, you’re not only harming yourself, but you’re also endangering others,” says the doctor.


Putin: People Vaccinated With Sputnik V Should Not Be Deprived Of Right To Travel

People vaccinated with Russia’s coronavirus vaccines Sputnik V should not be deprived of the right to travel around the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday.

“We have to make sure that the people who are vaccinated with Sputnik V, just like those vaccinated with other vaccines, have the opportunity to travel around the world without worry,” Putin said during a meeting with the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca. The president added that the Russian authorities “also hope for your support to guarantee this promotion of our vaccine” and that Russia should receive the WHO certificate for the vaccine as soon as possible to spread it more widely around the world.

Putin also mentioned that the results of the analysis of the vaccine’s use in foreign countries showed that it is among the most effective and safe ones.

Covaxin for 2-18 yrs: Centre examining Expert Committee recommendations

New Delhi [India] : The Central government is examining the recommendation of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) regarding the grant of market authorization of Covaxin for the age group of 2 to 18 years for restricted use in an emergency situation subject to various conditions, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF) told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar shared the information through a written reply, mentioning “this recommendation is being examined and additional information has been requested at the level of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)”. “The Interim Phase II/III clinical trial data of COVAXIN on healthy volunteers aged 2 to 18 years submitted by Bharat Biotech was deliberated in the meeting of Subject Expert Committee (SEC),” Pawar said.
“The committee recommended for grant of market authorization for the age group of 2 to 18 years for Restricted Use in Emergency Situation subject to various conditions,” the MoS added.
The Minister was replying to the question asked by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi Siva.
The MP had asked whether it is a fact that the expert panel has recommended Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin for use on children between the ages 2-18 years and the time taken for starting vaccination programme for children helping them in recovering from the fear of COVID-19 and opening of schools fully.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for Children, the vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for children, is being eagerly awaited as schools are now opening.
Amid growing concern of a new Omicron variant of the COVID-19, authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children will be significant.

India reports 8,309 new COVID-19 cases, 236 deaths in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported as many as 8,309 new COVID-19 cases and 236 deaths in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday.
With this, the active caseload in the country has now reached 1,03,859, which is the lowest in the last 544 days. Of these, Kerala has the highest number of active cases at 47,652 followed by Maharashtra (11,863) and Tamil Nadu (8,337).
According to the ministry, the active cases in the country account for less than one per cent of total cases, currently at 0.30 per cent which is the lowest since March last year.
With 236 new deaths, the death toll in the country has climbed to 4,68,790. Kerala reported 159 deaths in the last 24 hours, followed by Maharashtra (33) and West Bengal (12).
With 9,905 people recovering from the virus in the last 24 hours, the recovery rate in the country stands at 98.34 per cent which is the highest since March last year. The cumulative recoveries have mounted to 3,40,08,183.
The daily positivity rate reported at 1.09 per cent has been less than two per cent for the last 56 days while the weekly positivity rate at 0.85 per cent is less than one per cent for the last 15 days.
Meanwhile, over 122.41 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.

Study finds COVID infection risk rises after second vaccine dose

London [UK] : A new study has found a gradual increase in the risk of COVID-19 infection from 90 days after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Results confirm that protection wanes with time and suggest a third (booster) dose might be warranted. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘BMJ’.
The study was carried out by the Research Institute of Leumit Health Services in Israel. Israel was one of the first countries to roll out a large scale covid-19 vaccination campaign in December 2020, but it has seen a resurgence of infections since June 2021.
The findings confirm that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided excellent protection in the initial weeks after vaccination, but suggest that protection wanes for some individuals with time.
Across the world, large scale covid-19 vaccination campaigns are helping to control the spread of the virus, but even in countries with high vaccination rates, breakthrough infections can occur, which scientists think is due to a gradual loss of immunity over time.
Examining the time elapsed since vaccination and the risk of infection could provide important clues about the need for a third injection and its preferred timing.
To do this, the researchers examined electronic health records for 80,057 adults (average age 44 years) who received a PCR test at least three weeks after their second injection and had no evidence of previous covid-19 infection.
Of these 80,057 participants, 7,973 (9.6 per cent) had a positive test result. These individuals were then matched to negative controls of the same age and ethnic group who were tested in the same week.
The rate of positive results increased with time elapsed since a second dose. For example, across all age groups, 1.3 per cent of participants tested positive 21-89 days after a second dose, but this increased to 2.4 per cent after 90-119 days; 4.6 per cent after 120-149 days; 10.3 per cent after 150-179 days; and 15.5 per cent after 180 days or more.
And after taking account of other potentially influential factors, the researchers found a significantly increased risk of infection with time elapsed since a second dose.
Compared with the initial 90 days after a second dose, the risk of infection across all age groups was 2.37-fold higher after 90-119 days; 2.66-fold higher after 120-149 days; 2.82-fold higher after 150-179 days; and 2.82-fold higher after 180 days or more.
The researchers acknowledge that interpretation of their findings is limited by the observational design, and they cannot rule out the possibility that other unmeasured factors such as household size, population density, or virus strain may have had an effect.
However, this was a large study of people who all received the same vaccine, and the researchers were able to carry out a detailed analysis of the data, suggesting that the results are robust.
As such, they conclude that in individuals who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, protection seemed to decrease over time, and the risk of breakthrough infection increased progressively compared with the protection provided during the initial 90 days.
The results suggest that consideration of a third vaccine dose might be warranted, they added.

India logs 10,302 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hrs

New Delhi [India] : India reported 10,302 new COVID-19 cases and 267 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.
Out of these, Kerala reported 5,754 new cases of the COVID-19 infection and 49 deaths. Meanwhile, India’s active caseload stands at 1,24,868 which now account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.36 per cent, the lowest since March 2020.
With 11,787 people recovering in the last 24 hours, the recovery tally has gone up to 3,39,09,708. The recovery rate is currently at 98.29 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
As per the health ministry, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.96per cent. It has remained below 2 per cent for the last 47 days while the weekly positivity rate is at 0.93 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 57 days.
India has tested 63.05 crore samples for COVID-19 so far.
More than 115.79 crore vaccine doses have been administered under the nationwide vaccination drive.

Austria introduces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination from February 1

Vienna [Austria] : Mandatory vaccination campaign against coronavirus will start in Austria from February 1, 2022, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Friday.
“Today we have made a very difficult decision – to introduce compulsory vaccination very quickly, it should be in effect as early as February 1, 2022,” Schallenberg said at a press conference. Schallenberg also announced the introduction of a total national lockdown from Monday for a maximum of 20 days. According the chancellor, the lockdown for the unvaccinated people increased the readiness of the population to vaccinate, but not sufficiently.
Since November 15, a lockdown has been in effect in the country for those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Nevertheless, the epidemiological situation continues to deteriorate – the daily incidence regularly breaks records, the intensive care units are on the verge of being overloaded with COVID-19 patients.

New Study About Naturally Acquired Immunity May Improve Malaria Vaccines

Scientists all over the globe are working to understand malaria parasite infections to fight them.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have come to a significant closer step, as they have found an important difference between naturally acquired immunity and immunity following vaccination. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’.

“The antibodies which the body produces when you have been infected with malaria look different from those produced by the body when you have been vaccinated. And that probably means that our immune system has a more efficient response when we have been naturally infected than when we are vaccinated against malaria,” said Lars Hviid, Professor at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

The immune system can trigger various mechanisms in order to defend the body. The usual defence against infections with parasites, viruses and bacteria consists of so-called macrophages.

“When we are exposed to an attack from the outside, the immune system can produce antibodies that attach to the foreign body that needs to be fought. They are then recognised by some small cells called macrophages, which are attracted to the antibody and eat the bacterium or virus. This is basically how immunity to most infectious diseases works,” explained Lars Hviid.

But, now, researchers have discovered that immunity to malaria seems to work differently. Here, the body’s immune system uses some other types of cells to fight infection with the malaria parasite.
“We have found that the antibodies look different, depending on whether you have been vaccinated or infected. And that means that the body launches some other defence mechanism as, instead, it uses what we call natural killer cells,” said Lars Hviid.

Natural killer cells are usually known to researchers as one of the body’s best weapons to fight cancer cells. But, now, it seems that the defence against malaria has features in common with the immune system against cancer.

“In popular terms, you could say that the immune system has a more tailored defence against malaria than against other typical infections. Maybe we have evolved in this way because it is such a contagious and deadly disease — that is difficult to guess,” said Lars Hviid.

The researchers made the findings by comparing blood samples from Ghanaian people who had been infected with malaria with blood samples from people who participated in Phase 1 clinical trials of an experimental malaria vaccine.

He explained that the new knowledge may be used to develop new and improved malaria vaccines.
“Our study points to a new strategy for developing even better malaria vaccines in the future. Because, now, we know how the body mobilises the defence with natural killer cells, and we can imitate that with vaccines,” he said.

He looks forward to being able to test — together with other researchers — whether a future malaria vaccine will be able to utilise natural killer cells instead of the macrophages that the current vaccines use.

India records 10,229 new Covid cases; active cases decline to 1,34,096

New Delhi [India] : India’s Covid tally rose to 3,44,47,536 with 10,229 more people testing positive for coronavirus, while the active cases have declined to 1,34,096, the lowest in 523 days, according to the Union Health Ministry’s data updated on Monday. The death toll reached 4,63,655 after 125 new fatalities were reported, the data updated at 8 am showed. The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 38 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 141 consecutive days now. The active cases have declined to 1,34, 096 comprising 0.39 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.26 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the Health Ministry said. A decrease of 1,822 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.12 per cent. It has been less than 2 per cent for the last 42 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.99 per cent. It has been below 2 per cent for the last 52 days, according to the ministry. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,38,49,785, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.35 per cent. The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 112.34 crore. India had crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23. The 125 new fatalities include 65 from Kerala and 18 from Maharashtra. A total of 4,63,655 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 1,40,583 from Maharashtra, 38,145 from Karnataka, 36,284 from Tamil Nadu, 35,750 from Kerala, 25,094 from Delhi, 22,909 from Uttar Pradesh and 19,314 from West Bengal. 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 that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

New Zealand PM calls for solidarity against regional challenges at APEC meeting

Wellington [New Zealand] : New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed her confidence in multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and called for consistent joint efforts to tackle the most important regional challenges at the 28th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Saturday (local time).
Addressing the meeting, Ardern, who chairs APEC in 2021, underscored the persistent challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the benefits of collaborative response by all member economies. Each economy is facing the same fundamental problems in terms of getting as many people vaccinated as fast as possible, keeping businesses afloat and people in jobs, resuming safe cross-border traveling, accelerating economic recovery, and securing an equitable response, she said.
Looking ahead, Ardern stressed the importance of protection offered by mass vaccination.
“Today is also a chance to look to the future, as we seek to emerge from this crisis better than before. A future where our businesses flourish and our economies offer opportunities for all, where we embrace a green transformation, combat climate change and harness digital technologies. A future where, once protected by vaccination, we are able to deepen our connections for all our benefit,” she said.
Calling for more solidarity and renewed belief in the institution of APEC, Ardern said, “I hope we can write a new chapter in APEC’s history, and leave the organization stronger and ready to assist us all in tackling our most important challenges.”

India reports 11,850 fresh COVID-19 cases, 555 deaths in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,850 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the cumulative case count to 34,426,036, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.
The country’s active caseload declines to 1,36,308 which is the lowest in 274 days. The active cases presently constitute 0.40 per cent of the country’s total positive cases, which is the lowest since March 2020. With 12,403 new recoveries, the total number of recoveries in the country rises to 3,38,26,483 and the recovery rate stands at 98.26 per cent.
Currently, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.94 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the past 40 days. The weekly positivity rate is 1.05 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 50 days.
The country also reported 555 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,63,245. The fatality rate currently stood at 1.35 per cent.
In the last 24 hours, a total of 12,66,589 tests were conducted. India has so far conducted over 62,23,33,939 cumulative tests.
Meanwhile, with the administration of 58,42,530 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 1,11,40,48,134 as per provisional reports till 7 am today.

India’s cumulative Covid-19 vaccination coverage exceeds 110.79 cr doses

New Delhi [India]: India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage crossed 110.79 crores on Friday, the Union Health Ministry informed.
According to the ministry, more than 53.81 lakh doses (53,81,889) were administered in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of doses to 1,10,79,51,225, till 7 am today. Meanwhile, the country reported 12,516 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
At present, the active caseload stands at 1,37,416, the lowest in 267 days. The overall recovery rate stands at 98.26 per cent.
A total of 3,38,14,080 people have recovered from the coronavirus infection so far in the country, including 13,155 new recoveries reported in the past 24 hours.
The weekly positivity rate is 1.10 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 49 days, the ministry said.

COVID-19: States, UTs must work together in collaborative spirit, says Union Health Minister

New Delhi [India] : Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday said all the state and union territories should work together in a collaborative spirit to give COVID-19 pandemic the last mile effort, informed sources.
The Union Minister said this during the meeting with state and union territories health ministers on the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ COVID19 vaccination campaign. “In the national interest, all states and UTs must work together in a collaborative spirit to give this in the last-mile effort. So that no household, no citizen is left unvaccinated in the country,” said Mandaviya.
He also said that the CoWIN can be used to prepare district-specific action plans.
“We should not think that COVID is over. Cases are rising globally, ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign being monitored daily. CoWIN can be used to prepare district-specific action plans. CoWIN portal to focus on expiry of vaccines,” he said during the meeting.
He further said that in countries like Singapore, Britain, Russia, China cases are rising despite more than 80 per cent vaccination.
He also upgraded states to ensure all eligible population gets the first dose and more than 12 crore are also covered for the second dose during the Har Ghar Dastak campaign should also be covered.
Most of the state and union territories health ministers and senior representatives were present in the meeting with Union Health Minister.
With ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign, the Centre is targeting to complete maximum single dose and second dose adult COVID-19 vaccination. It was launched on November 2 on the occasion of Dhanwantari Diwas.
The health ministry today informed that 110.23 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.
The Centre has provided 1,20,08,58,170 vaccine doses to states and union territories so far, through free of cost channel, and through the direct state procurement category, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.
According to an official release, 16,74,03,871 balance and unutilized COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and union territories to be administered.

India reports 11,466 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,466 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.
The country’s active caseload stands at 1,39,683, which is the lowest in 264 days and it accounts for less than 1 per cent of total cases. It is currently at 0.41 per cent, the lowest since March 2020. The recovery rate is currently at 98.25 per cent and it is the highest since March 2020 the beginning of the pandemic.
The country has also conducted over 61.85 crore COVID-19 tests.
Meanwhile, 109.63 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive.

India reports 10,126 new Covid cases in last 24 hrs, lowest in 266 days

New Delhi [India] : India reported 10,126 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest in 266 days hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.
The country’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rises to 3,43,77113. The active caseload stands at 1,40,638, which is the lowest in 263 days. Currently, the active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.41 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020.
With 11,982 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries mounted to 3,37,75,086. India’s recovery rate stands at 98.25 per cent, which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
The death toll climbed to 4,61,389 with 332 fresh fatalities.
The weekly positivity rate at 1.25 per cent remains less than 2 per cent for the last 46 days now while the daily positivity rate is reported to be 0.93 per cent.
The daily positivity rate has remained below 2 per cent for the last 36 days and below 3 per cent for 71 consecutive days now.
According to the health ministry, in the last 24 hours, a total of 10,85,848 tests were conducted taking the cumulative tests to 61,72,23,931.
With the administration of 59,08,440 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 1,09,08,16,356 as per provisional reports till 7 am today.

Massive COVID wave unlikely if large population already infected, says AIIMS Doctor

Delhi [India] : Responding to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning of a new COVID-19 wave, AIIMS Doctor and Epidemiologist Dr Sanjay K Rai on Friday said that it is unlikely if a large population has already been already infected by the virus.
The WHO had earlier warned of a massive COVID-19 wave in Europe and Central Asia. It also said that over 5,00,000 deaths (combined) are likely in this region by February 2022. “When large populations get infected, massive waves of the virus are unlikely. Natural infections lead to natural immunity which leads to a decline in the number of cases. Vaccinations also reduce disease severity and deaths. It will happen in Russia and Central Asia. A wave of infections is going on there, but this will reduce by February. This happened everywhere, including in India. A large amount of the population was infected, then cases started to decline rapidly. Whenever the cases rise rapidly, they decline quickly too,” he said.
He, however, said it was likely that the regions could touch the mark of 5,00,000 deaths by February and even vaccinations would not bring the rising deaths to a sudden halt.
He added that WHO was losing its credibility on the global stage.
“It has been giving controversial statements. It has not been able to figure out the origins of COVID-19. It took them over 1.5 years to understand that natural infections are giving protection to the people but they are still not giving much weightage to it,” he said.
Amid increasing COVID-19 cases in Europe and Central Asia, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned of rising cases and deaths. According to the WHO, every single country in Europe and Central Asia is facing a real threat of COVID-19 resurgence or is already fighting it.

Spain Sees A Reactivation Of International Tourism Due To High Vaccination Level

International travel to Spain is recovering fast and could allow the tourism-dependent nation to reach pre-pandemic foreign visitor levels by 2022, the government said on Wednesday after data showed a sharp rise in September arrivals.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain more than quadrupled in September from a year ago to nearly 4.7 million, data from the National Statistics Office showed, as widespread vaccination and looser travel restrictions enticed back more visitors.

“These data confirm a reactivation of international tourism is underway and that in 2022 we could recover pre-pandemic levels,” Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said in a statement.

Maroto cited Spain’s natural tourist attractions and its high level of vaccination – around 80% of the population – as driving forces behind the recovery.

She had said in the past foreign tourism would be half pre-pandemic level in 2021 up from less than 20% in 2020.

Unlike Italy and France, Spain does not require proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test to enter restaurants or bars, meaning unvaccinated visitors can enjoy their holiday without taking tests every few days.

Nevertheless, total arrivals were still far below the 8.8 million who came to Spain in September of 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Tourists spent a total of 5.04 billion euros ($5.84 billion)in the country, soaring from the 964 million euros of the previous year but a long way off the 9.62 billion euros spent in September 2020.

Germans made up the largest group of foreign travellers, followed by Britons and French people, the data showed.

India reports 11,903 new COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,903 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, said the Union Health Ministry.
India’s active caseload stands at 1,51,209, which is the lowest in 252 days. Active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases and is currently at 0.44 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020. With 14,159 recoveries reported in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries reached 3,36,97,740. Consequently, the recovery rate is currently at 98.22 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
The daily positivity rate is 1.11 per cent and it has remained below 2 per cent for last 30 days. The weekly positivity rate is 1.18 per cent, which also remained less than 2 per cent for last 40 days.
As per the ministry, 61.12 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far.
In the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, 107.29 crore vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan may face fifth COVID-19 wave due to slow vaccination

Islamabad [Pakistan] : Senior officials have informed that Pakistan could be facing the fifth wave of coronavirus in winter due to the slow pace of vaccination in the country.
“The government has achieved vaccination targets to some extent, millions in the country still need to be vaccinated against coronavirus,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Samaa TV reported. Sultan warned that the fifth wave of coronavirus could hit Pakistan if the pace of vaccinations is not increased.
In total, more than 150 million people in the country need to be vaccinated. So far 26 per cent have been fully vaccinated and 20 per cent more have received a single dose.
“The second dose is vital for protection against Covid,” Sultan was quoted as saying by Samaa TV.
The number of active cases in Pakistan stands at 22,545. A total of 28,456 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the country since the pandemic started, Geo News reported.

India logs 12,428 new COVID-19 cases, lowest in 238 days

New Delhi [India] : India logged 12,428 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest in 238 days, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.
The country’s active caseload stands at 1,63,816, which is the lowest in 241 days. The active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases and are currently at 0.48 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020.
With 15,951 recoveries in the last 24 hours, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.19 per cent, which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
Also, the weekly positivity rate is at 1.24 per cent while the daily positivity rate remained at 1.10 per cent.
The country has so far conducted over 60.19 crore COVID tests.
Meanwhile, under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive, more than 102.94 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

India inoculates over 100 cr COVID-19 vaccine doses

As the country achieved the milestone of vaccinating over 100 crore Indians against COVID-19 on Thursday India’s role as the pharmacy of the world became more entrenched with the nation manufacturing COVID vaccines and many drugs used in the treatment against the virus.

New Delhi [India] : Even after witnessing the havoc created by the two waves of the pandemic, India emerged out of its effects by ramping up the pharma manufacturing sector and maintaining a resilient supply chain of essential drugs. The Centre in an official statement has stated that vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advanced visibility of vaccine availability to states and union territories for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the vaccine supply chain.
During the second wave in the pandemic that hit the country around April this year, the Department of Pharmaceuticals undertook the task of making the essential COVID-related drugs available across the country in active partnership with the manufacturers of these drugs.
According to official information, the monitoring of production and availability of drugs has been carried out as a joint exercise by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW).
A COVID Drugs Management Cell (CDMC) was formally set up on April 26 this year in the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) to oversee the management of smooth supply of drugs used in COVID-19 management during the pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, production of essential drugs like Remdesivir, Liposomal Amphotericin-B and notably the COVID-19 vaccines were increased.
License to manufacture Remdesivir was granted to seven Indian pharmaceutical companies. The domestic production capacity of all the seven licensed manufacturers was augmented from 38 lakh vials per month in April 2021 to nearly 122 lakh vials per month in June 2021.
For, Liposomal Amphotericin B, a drug used in the treatment of Mucormycosis also known as black fungus, new licenses were granted by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) in favour of 11 new manufacturers during the months of May-June 2021 in addition to the existing five manufacturers of this drug. The domestic production was also increased from 62,000 vials in April 2021 to 3.45 lakh vials in July 2021. Similarly, quantities of imports have substantially increased from 26,165 in April 2021 to 5.09 lakh in July 2021.
It is interesting to look at the nation’s vaccination journey. India commenced its nationwide COVID vaccination drive on January 16, 2021. Starting initially by inoculating vaccines to healthcare workers, it was then expanded to frontline workers, followed by people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with comorbidities. Later it was also expanded to all above 45 years of age and then those above 18 years of age.
To fortify the vaccination drive, pharmaceutical companies like Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, Biological E, among others were roped in to manufacture a sufficient number of vaccine doses.
When the world was gripped by the clutches of the pandemic, the country looked at setting up manufacturing units of COVID-19 vaccines and expediting the global vaccine delivery. With the establishment of vaccine manufacturing units, countries across the world looked at India for its supply.
Ahead of the sixth edition of the annual program on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Device sector – India Pharma & India Medical Device 2021– held in February this year, former Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D V Sadananda Gowda had said, “India is a leading exporter of affordable generics and a major hub for medical devices and diagnostics. India has been serving more than 200+ countries and territories with its Pharma products and will continue to discharge its responsibilities.”
He said, “The total market size of the Indian pharma industry is expected to reach USD 130 billion by 2030. The medical devices industry in India has the potential to reach USD 50 bn by 2025.”
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya had said, “During the pandemic, Indian pharma industries supplied the necessary medicines to over 120 countries while fulfilling the country’s own needs. He said that India has launched the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination program and is at the centre of the global effort to provide vaccines to other countries.”
India, having low-cost manpower, pushed its pharmaceutical sector to provide a sufficient supply of vaccines to other countries but at the same time ensured that its own population gets vaccinated.
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s standing as ‘the pharmacy of the world’ remained intact.
‘Vaccine Maitri’, an initiative that was started by the Central government to provide COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world, reinforced India’s credentials as a trusted, reliable manufacturer and supplier of quality vaccines.
The government on October 7 permitted the Serum Institute of India (SII) to export 10 lakh Covishield doses each to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It allowed Bharat Biotech to provide 10 lakh doses to Iran.
By exporting vaccines, India remained a critical node in the global health supply chain and established itself as a selfless contributor to global health security.
The country emerged as a net provider of health security and successfully shouldered its responsibility as the pharmacy of the world. Even amidst the pandemic, India continued to export critical life-saving medicines to the countries.
In the recent past, the country’s efforts have been noted by leaders abroad. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in March had appreciated India’s role as the pharmacy of the world.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that the capacity to produce vaccines of India is one of the “best assets that the world has today”.
Terming India as ‘pharmacy of the world’, the UK in January had lauded the efforts regarding the production of coronavirus vaccine and said, “India already supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic.”
In line with its Neighbourhood First policy, India has rolled out Indian-made Covishield vaccines to several countries including Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal to aid the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten lakh doses of Covaxin have been exported to Iran under Vaccine Maitri. 

India achieves 100 cr COVID-19 vaccination mark

New Delhi [India] : With an uptick in the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19, India on Thursday crossed inoculation of 100 crore vaccine doses, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The 100-crore milestone was achieved in about 10 months after the inoculation drive was launched on January 16. The aim of the Government of India is to fully vaccinate the country’s entire adult population by December this year. India has administered more vaccine doses than any other country in the world apart from China.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday congratulated the nation after India crossed the 100 crore inoculation mark. “Congratulations India! This is the result of the able leadership of visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Mansukh Mandaviya posted on Twitter.
As of October 16, more than 97.65 crore vaccine doses were administered to over 69.47 crore people. More than 28.18 crore people are fully vaccinated by then.
This means that 74 per cent, or close to three-fourths, of the adult population in India, have received at least one dose, while 30 per cent have got both doses, reported Health Ministry data.
While critics cried over the slow vaccination rate, India become the fastest in the world to administer 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines in 85 days.
As per the Health Ministry, it took the United States 85 days to administer 92.09 million doses, while China’s vaccination coverage was 61.42 million.
Moreover, the sheer speed, scale, and safety with which the drive has been conducted have made the entire world take notice.
If we compare India’s vaccination rate vis-s-vis the world, India alone administered a record 180 million doses in the month of August, more than what all G7 nations put together did during the month.
While India managed to administer 180 million doses, Japan jabbed 40 million, the US vaccinated 23 million, France 13 million, Germany nine million, Italy eight million, UK five million, and Canada around three million.
Moreover, India has administered most vaccine doses after China. As per Health Ministry’s August data, India has been vaccinating nearly 64 lakh people per day, which is more than the entire population of over 120 countries.
India stands at number two globally in terms of total doses administered, second to China, followed by the US, Brazil, and Japan.
Population-wise, India has administered 49 doses per 100 people while the same figure is above 100 for every G7 nation — Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Similarly, every G7 nation with the exception of Japan has fully vaccinated over half their eligible population while India has covered only over 11 per cent, according to Health Ministry August data.
India also has managed to outpace the biggest economy of the world – the US by administering more than twice the number of doses it has done so far despite starting a month after America began its drive.
In the last week, an average of 948,921 doses per day was administered in the US whereas India administered an average of about 60 lakh doses per day, reported Health Ministry.
Around 83.9 per cent of the eligible population has taken one dose in the US. India too is not lagging behind in this and has done equally good by administering 71 per cent of its adult population with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s only the humongous size of its population that put India at a natural disadvantage when it comes to other nations otherwise New Delhi has made impressive strides in its vaccination drive.
India’s vaccination drive began on January 16. The Indian government started the ‘biggest vaccination drive in the world’ by first targeting 30 million front-line workers including health care professionals.
The drive was opened for people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities from 1st March 2021. Gradually the vaccination drive has been opened for everyone above the age of 18.
The second phase of the nationwide vaccination drive started on April 2, where all people above 45 years became eligible for the vaccine.
Also, India is close to achieving the historic milestone of administering 100 crore COVID-19 vaccination doses in record time.
As of date, India is using three vaccines against COVID-19 in its immunization drive. These include Covishield (Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited) and Sputnik V (developed by Gamaleya Research Institute, Russia). All are two-shot vaccines.
Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to three other vaccines by Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and Zydus Cadila.
The Indian government through its largest vaccination drive aims to target 100 per cent adult coverage by the end of this year.
With a third wave predicted for India any time between August and December, vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic is the only way to protect the people from severe infections and hospitalisations.

‘Vaccination Mela’ in Dehradun: People to win prizes for taking second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India] : Aiming to motivate the people to complete their second dose of COVID-19 vaccination during the ongoing festive season, Dehradun district administration in coordination with the State Health Department and Smart City Project Ltd. is organising ‘Vaccination Mela’ from October 18 to November 2.
The slogan for the mela being organised to encourage people for vaccination is “Festivals are fun only when the second dose is done”. Speaking to ANI, District Magistrate and CEO, Dehradun Smart City Ltd, R Rajesh Kumar said that during the COVID-19 vaccination fair, which will take place from October 18 to November 2, residents will be rewarded for taking the second dose through a lucky draw sponsored by the smart city. People will also be urged to get innoculated during this period, he added.
The district magistrate informed that almost 100 per cent of the eligible people have been vaccinated in the district, however, only 50 per cent of the people have been fully vaccinated.
“The people to people contact is more during the festive season. So, with a view to vaccinating every individual against COVID-19, with the second dose, the administration is organizing the Vaccination Mela, and the ones who will inoculate themselves during this period will be eligible to win various prizes in the lucky draw,” said Kumar.
The prizes in the ‘Mega Lucky Draw’ by Smart City include electric scooty, LED TV with sound system and double-door refrigerator apart from the consolation prizes such as smartphone, tablet, microwave, kitchen appliances, food processor, oven, induction, track suite, shoes etc.

India’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination coverage reaches 97 cr

New Delhi [India], October 14 : India’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination coverage on Thursday reached 97 crores, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Meanwhile, India reported 18,987 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, said Union Health Ministry on Thursday. With 19,808 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries climbed to 3,33,62,709. Currently, India has 2,06,586 active cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday informed that a total of 13,01,083 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. With this, the total samples tested up to October 13 touched 58,76,64,525.

Green Strategic Partnership with Denmark : PM Modi

The Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark is a symbol of the far-reaching thinking in both nations, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

New Delhi [India], October 9 : “A year ago today, we took the historic decision to establish a Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark in our virtual summit. This is a sign of far-reaching thinking and respect for the environment in both our countries,” PM Modi said following the bilateral talks with visiting Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. India and Denmark have continued their cooperation during the COVID19 pandemic, PM Modi noted.

“During our virtual summit, we had decided to establish a Green Strategic Partnership between our two countries. Today, we reviewed and reiterated our commitment on this,” he added.
Last year in September, India and Denmark decided to elevate their relations to Green Strategic Partnership and reaffirmed their determination to strengthen cooperation and contribute to comprehensive reforms of the WTO.
The Green Strategic Partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement to advance political cooperation, expand economic relations and green growth, create jobs and strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges and opportunities; with a focus on an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to Ministry of External Affairs.

India, Denmark exchange four MoUs, including agreements on groundwater resources, skill development

India and Denmark on Saturday exchanged four agreements following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen.
The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Council of Scientific & Industrial Research- National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, Aarhus University, Denmark and Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland on mapping of groundwater resources and aquifers. The second agreement was signed on the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library Access Agreement between the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
The third MoU was signed between the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Danfoss Industries Private Limited to establish a Centre of Excellence towards natural refrigerants for tropical climates with potential applications.
The fourth agreement was a Joint Letter of Intent between the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of the Republic of India and The Government of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Earlier today, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar met with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and said her ongoing India visit will advance the Green Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
“Welcomed Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on her first visit to India. Our Green Strategic Partnership will advance further as a result,” EAM Jaishankar tweeted.
Frederiksen is on her first state visit to India.
Earlier today, PM Modi received Frederiksen at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi, where she was accorded a ceremonial welcome. She also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
The Danish Prime Minister said she sees her visit as a milestone for the relations between the two nations. “We consider India as a close partner. I see this visit as a milestone for Denmark-India bilateral relations,” she said.
Speaking after the ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Frederiksen added that she sees an ambitious Indian government taking responsibility for the issue of green transition in India and the rest of the world.
The Danish PM arrived in New Delhi early on Saturday. She was received by the Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi, at Delhi airport.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Danish PM’s visit is an opportunity to review and further the India-Denmark Green Strategic Partnership.
Frederiksen will call on President Ram Nath Kovind. She will also interact with think tanks, students and members of civil society.
India termed Mette Frederiksen’s visit very important as she is the first head of state visiting India since COVID-19 restrictions are in place since last March. EAM Jaishankar also visited Denmark earlier this year.

US to donate 500 million additional Covid vaccines to world

The United States is set to announce the purchase of an additional 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to donate to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world, a senior Biden Administration Official informed on Wednesday.

Washington DC [US], September 22 : This new commitment will bring our total to over 1.1 billion vaccines donated to the world. “So, tomorrow, President Biden will announce that the US is purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to donate to low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world,” said senior Administration Official Previewing the Global Summit to End COVID-19.
A senior official said that the donations are being made “free of charge, no strings attached”.
“These half a billion vaccines will be made here in the United States by American workers. They’ll start shipping out in January. And that means from January through September of next year, we will ship out 800 million vaccines to the world,” the official added.
The official further stated that the US has committed to donating over 600 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world so far. “That includes 500 million Pfizer doses that the US purchased earlier this summer to donate to 100 countries in need — the largest donation of COVID-19 vaccines by a single country ever.”
Overall, the United States has now shipped nearly 160 million of these doses to 100 countries around the world — from Peru to Pakistan, Sri Lanka to Sudan, El Salvador to Ethiopia.

SC notice to Centre on plea seeking safeguards for pregnant, lactating women getting COVID-19 vaccination

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), Delhi government, seeking additional safeguards for pregnant and lactating women like continuous monitoring of those receiving COVID-19 vaccination.

New Delhi [India], September 20 : A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud also sought Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s assistance on the policy which has been formulated and applicable guidelines that are to be framed. “Advocate Vrinda Grover for DCPCR submits that petition was instituted in May 2021 during second COVID-19 wave and subsequently operational guidelines have been issued for pregnant and lactating mothers. However, there are some reliefs that are to be sought. Issue notice to Union of India. Solicitor General is required to assist the court about the policy which has been formulated and applicable guidelines that are to be framed,” the Bench stated in its order.
During the hearing, Grover argued that since we are dealing with a virus that we don’t know about, there is a need to conduct scientific research to see what are the effects on pregnant and lactating women.
She further said there is a need to create a registry for ensuring continuous monitoring. Grover added that after the petition was filed in May this year, the Centre has issued operational guidelines for vaccination for pregnant and lactating women, however, some concerns remain unaddressed.
DCPCR approached the apex court against the advisory of the Union government excluding pregnant and lactating women from COVID-19 vaccination.

The plea sought direction for developing education material and Standard Operating Protocols to educate women on the side effects of vaccination, effects of vaccination on pregnant and lactating mothers and ensure taking informed consent before taking the vaccine.
It further asked for relief for the creation of a registry to register pregnant women and lactating mothers being vaccinated to ensure the existence of a continuous monitoring mechanism to see if the vaccine has an adverse effect on pregnant women.
“The health of pregnant women and lactating mothers is inextricably connected with and directly impacts on the mortality and health of children,” the petition said.

Karnataka administered 29 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses on Friday, 1.68 lakh doses yet to update on CoWIN portal

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: As many as 29 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Karnataka on Friday and about 1.68 lakh doses are yet to be recorded on Cowin portal, said health and medical education minister Dr K Sudhakar.

He also added that the state accounted for 11 per cent of the total doses administered in the country and achieved a unique feat. Addressing the press conference, Dr Sudhakar said, “We had decided to celebrate PM Narendra Modiji’s birthday in a meaningful manner with an accelerated special vaccination drive.

Chief Minister BS Bommai fully supported the initiative and we had set a target to clock 30 lakh jabs. As of 8:30 AM on Saturday 29,50,093 doses have been administered and another 1.68 lakh doses are yet to be recorded in portal which takes the total count to 31 lakh doses. Karnataka accounted for 11 per cent of the total doses administered in the country on Friday.”

“By inoculating 62,003 persons for every 10 lakh eligible population Karnataka stands first in the entire country. 14,401 vaccination centres were set up across the state and on average 205 doses were administered in each centre. 14 districts have achieved more than the target and only four districts have achieved 75 per cent of the target,” said the minister.

He informed that the state has administered more than 5 crore doses and the last one crore has been achieved in just 20 days. More than 1 crore people are fully vaccinated with both doses, he added.
With over 2.50 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, India created a world record of the highest number of COVID jabs in a day on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 71st birthday on Friday.

Goa is playing important role in vaccination drive: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday congratulated the healthcare workers of Goa for completing 100 per cent of first vaccination dose and said the state is playing important role in the success of the world’s largest and fastest vaccination drive “Sabko vaccine, muft vaccine”.

New Delhi [India], September 18 : Interacting with the health care workers (HCW) and beneficiaries of the Covid vaccination programme in Goa via video conferencing PM Modi said, “Goa is playing important role in the success of the world’s largest and fastest vaccination drive – ‘Sabko vaccine, muft vaccine’. In the past few months, Goa fought bravely against heavy rainfall, cyclone and flood, under the leadership of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.” “I thank Team Goa, for their work during such a time. Every eligible person in Goa has received a dose of vaccine. This is a big deal in the fight against corona. Congratulations to all the people of Goa for this. This kind of coordination that Goa has shown to address social and geographical challenges is commendable. The Canacoona sub-division, which is situated far and wide in the state, is proof of the rapid vaccination as in the rest of the state,” he added.
Modi further said that Goa’s vaccine wastage prevention model will help other parts of the country.
Interacting with healthcare workers and vaccine beneficiaries from Goa, PM Modi also hailed the leadership of state Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for 100 per cent vaccination of the adult population in the state.

Lauding the efforts of healthcare workers and corona warriors who could make it possible to set a new world record by vaccinating over 2.5 crore people on a single day, PM Modi said, “The largest vaccination doses administered on September 17 with over 2.5 crore vaccinations by the Indian healthcare workers is worth admiring and shows our dedication to fight against this pandemic. The government is trying to make sure that not a single citizen of India faces any difficulties during these trying times.”
“I also want to appreciate all the doctors, medical staff, people associated with the administration in the country. With the efforts of all of you, India has set a record of giving the vaccine to more than 2.5 crore people in a single day yesterday,” he added.
“The achievement shows India’s strength and the entire world will acknowledge it,” he added further.
Meanwhile, healthcare workers extend greetings to PM Modi, who celebrated his 71st birthday on Friday.
Taking a jibe at Opposition PM Modi said that some parties are experiencing fever after 2.5 crore vaccination.

India administers over 61 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses in last 24 hrs

With the administration of 61,15,690 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the last 24 hours, the country’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has surpassed the cumulative figure of 75.89 crores, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

New Delhi [India], September 15 : According to the ministry, 75,89,12,277 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the country so far through 76,68,216 sessions. Of the total, 1,03,65,064 health care workers have received the first dose and 86,27,893 doses have been administered as the second dose to them.
As many as 1,83,39,480frontline workers were administered the first dose and 1,41,57,234 vaccine doses were given as the second dose to them.
” 30,62,20,932 vaccine doses were administered as the first dose and 4,70,46,927 vaccine doses were given as the second dose in the age group 18-44 years,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, sustained and collaborative efforts by the Centre and the states and UTs continue the trend of less than 50,000 daily new cases that is being reported for 80 consecutive days now.
India reported 27,176 fresh COVID-19 cases and 284 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per official data released by the health ministry on Wednesday.
The active caseload is presently 3,51,087.
The last 24 hours saw a total of 16,10,829 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted 54,60,55,796 cumulative tests.

COVID vaccination is our shield, protection, effort to ultimately extinguish the disease: VK Paul

New Delhi [India], September 14 : As India crossed the landmark of administering over 75 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses on Tuesday, Niti Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said that vaccine is a shield against the disease and is also the union government’s effort to contain and ultimately extinguish coronavirus.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Paul said, “This is a very significant milestone in our fight against COVID-19. The vaccination programme and the vaccine is our shield, our protection, and our effort to contain and ultimately extinguish this disease in the 75th year of independence.” Mentioning that there are still several miles to cover, he said, “Our agenda is still to be achieved but we are making accelerated progress. There is acceleration in the implementation of the vaccination programme and this shows our capability.”
In the month of May, every day about 20 lakh doses of the Covid vaccine were administered, and more recently, India administers above 75 lakhs doses per day.
“This augurs well; it gives us confidence that we will be able to provide vaccinations to our population in a rational period of time,” Paul added.
Giving an insight into India’s future goal for COVID-19 vaccination, he said, “The goal is that all adults who are eligible for receiving Covid vaccination should get their jab. This is the goal towards which we are working presently.”
“Our acceleration is reassuring and vaccine supply portfolio is also reassuring. Steadily, we are moving in towards the goal. It’s a goal that we believe is possible to be achieved,” he added.
Further, he mentioned that the entire system engaged in the COVID-19 vaccination programme is geared up, Paul said, “We now know how to mobilise people of not only the urban but also the rural areas. People themselves are also coming forward to get their dose of vaccine. The IT system and the cold chain systems are also working well. It is very reassuring.”
“We have steady well-oiled machinery that is working and can further push vaccine uptake in remote areas for marginalised people and those who need to be made aware. But that’s an effort that would be achieved collectively by the will of people, the stakeholders of the government, civil society and others,” he added.

Himachal achieved 97 pc of COVID vaccination target: CM

Hamirpur/Mandi (HP), Aug 26: Himachal Pradesh has achieved about 97 per cent of its Covid vaccination target, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said here on Thursday.
He said the credit goes to the doctors and paramedical staff as well as the active cooperation provided by the people of the state.

While addressing a public meeting at Baldwara in Mandi district, he said that the state government ensured that no one in the state was deprived of medical treatment due to non-availability of beds and oxygen in hospitals.
There were only two oxygen plants in the state when this pandemic spread in the country, but today about 28 oxygen plants were coming up in the state, out of which 12 oxygen plants have been made functional.

The Chief Minister was speaking while inaugurating 12 developmental projects worth about Rs 140 crore in Sarkaghat Assembly Constituency of Mandi district. Of the projects, schemes worth about Rs 100 crore have been provided at Baldwara area of Sarkaghat segment.

The Chief Minister laid foundation stones of Rs 2.60 crore Single Circuit HT Line from 33/11KV Sub Station of 33/11 KV Sub Station Khudla, Rs 2.78 crore Ambla Galu Andhara Harwan road, Rs 55.25 crore source level augmentation of various LWSS/WSS schemes under Jal Shakti Division Sarkaghat and Rs 2.12 crore FIS/LIS Matyara in GP Narola in Tehsil Sarkaghat.
The Chief Minister announced up gradation of Government Middle School Kalkhar to Government High School, Community Health Centre Baldwara to 50 bedded Civil Hospital, starting of science classes in Government Degree College Baldwara, opening of Sub Tehsil at Dhalwan, up gradation of veterinary dispensary at Patrighat to Veterinary Hospital, construction of helipad at Bhambla.

He said that the state government was committed to providing corruption-free governance to the people of the state. Even a single allegation of corruption has been reported during about three and a half year’s tenure of the state government. There was no place for corruption during the tenure of the present State Government. He said that the people of the State have given their wholehearted support to the present State Government in all the elections viz. Lok Sabha, PRIs, ULBs and by-election of two Assembly constituencies with record margins.

He gave a clarion call to the people to support the BJP in the coming bye elections to the Mandi Lok Sabha seat where election would be held shortly.

Thakur detailed various developmental and welfare schemes launched by the State Government to ensure socio-economic upliftment of the people of the State. He said that 3.17 lakh families have been provided free gas connections to eligible families under Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

The Chief Minister was also honored by various social, cultural and political organizations on the occasion.

Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur thanked the Chief Minister on behalf of the people of Sarkaghat area for dedicating several developmental projects for the area.

MLA Sarkaghat Col. Inder Singh, while welcoming the Chief Minister to his home constituency thanked him for dedicating and laying foundation stones of developmental projects worth about Rs 140 crores. He said that Rs 145 crore has been sanctioned for roads and bridges during the last about three years in Sarkaghat constituency.

India among 4 countries to make vaccine in 9 months

Hamirpur (Himachal Pradesh) [India]\: Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday praised the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that India is among the four countries that made COVID-19 vaccine within nine months.

“In the tenure of preceding governments, India used to get vaccine injections after 40 years. If such a government existed today, you would not have received COVID-19 vaccination. Modi ji promised and implemented the program of self-reliant India. Within nine months, India was among the four countries to make COVID-19 vaccine,” he said while addressing a gathering in Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur on the fifth day of his Jan Ashirwad Yatra. He further informed that work on the Bhanupali-Bilaspur railway line has been started.

“Work on railway line from Bhanupali to Bilaspur has begun. In the railway line of 48 km, construction contract for its 20 km track has been given. The rest 28 km will also be done,” he said.

The Union Minister further said that the state and Centre are discussing about the Hamirpur railway line.
“After the discussion about state’s expenditure on the construction of Hamirpur railway line is completed, the construction will begin,” he noted.

He further assured that work will be done in the field of sports in the state.
Thakur has been touring Himachal Pradesh to seek the blessings of people after he was inducted into the new Cabinet.

Earlier today, he offered prayers at Awah Devi temple in Hamirpur.
The Union Minister embarked on his Jan Ashirwad Yatra on Thursday from Chandigarh.
Several other Union Ministers who were recently inducted in the Cabinet in July has commenced their Jan Ashirwad Yatra including Union Minister of Culture and Tourism G. Kishan Reddy, Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan among others.

The Jan Ashirwad Yatra, which is slated to be held between August 16 to 20, is aimed at seeking blessings of the people by the 43 new ministers.

The new Union Ministers have embarked on Jan Ashirwad Yatra as they could not be introduced in Parliament earlier this month due to repeated disruptions by the Opposition.

The yatra will seek to inform people about the achievements of BJP-led central government in internal, external, economic, social, health spheres and programmes aimed at boosting employment through its focus on self-reliance.

24-hr COVID vaccination in govt, dist hospitals launched in TN

Chennai, Aug 23: In a bid to achieve maximum coverage, the
Tamil Nadu government today launched 24 hour COVID vaccination
drive in all the government and district hospitals across the State.
It was launched by Health Minister Ma Subramanian in the city in the
presence of officials and it will be available in more than 50 hospitals
across the State.
In all 11 government medical college hospitals in the State will have
round-the-clock COVID-19 vaccination centres from Monday.
The vaccination centres started functioning in all government medical
college hospitals, and district government hospitals in districts that did
not have government medical colleges.
In Chennai, round-the-clock vaccination is being administered at the
Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, Government Medical College
Hospital at Omandurar Estate, Government Royapettah Hospital, Government
Stanley Medical College Hospital and Government Kilpauk Medical College
“Through this, the pace of vaccination will be faster and people can get
vaccinated easily in Chennai,” the Minister said.
The 24-hr vaccination drive will be beneficial to employed people and those
travelling within or outside the state.
The Minister said 100 per cent vaccination had been achieved in over
60 villages throughout the State, including in the tourist destination
of Kodaikanal.

Vaccination Exceeds 57.61 cr

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage surpassed 57.61 crore on Saturday, of which 36,36,043 vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours.

New Delhi [India], August 21 : “With the administration of 36,36,043 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has surpassed the cumulative figure of 57.61 crore (57,61,17,350) as per provisional reports till 7 am today,” the Union Health Ministry informed in a press release. This has been achieved through 64,01,385 sessions.
Of the total COVID-19 vaccines administered in the last 24 hours, 26,57,302 were that of the first dose, and 9,78,741 were of the second dose.
Additionally, the ministry reported that the recovery of 36,347 patients in the last 24 hours has increased the cumulative tally of recovered patients (since the beginning of the pandemic) to 3,15,97,982.
Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 97.54 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
34,457 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.
“High recoveries and a low number of new cases have subsided the active caseload to 3,61,340 which is at its lowest in 151 days. Active cases presently form only 1.12 per cent of the country’s total positive cases, which is the lowest since March 2020,” the ministry stated.
In the last 24 hours, a total of 17,21,205 COVID-19 tests were conducted. With this, India has conducted over 50.45 Cr (50,45,76,158) cumulative tests so far.
“While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, the weekly positivity rate at 1.98 per cent remains less than 3 per cent for the last 57 days now. The daily positivity rate also stands at 2.00 per cent. The daily Positivity rate has remained below 3 per cent for the last 26 days and below 5 per cent for 75 consecutive days now,” the ministry added.

Approval for world’s first DNA-based ‘ZyCov-D’ vaccine is testimony to innovative zeal of India’s scientists: PM Modi

New Delhi [India], August 20 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the approval for the world’s first DNA-based ‘ZyCov-‘ vaccine of Zydus Cadila group is a testimony to the innovative zeal of India’s scientists.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister wrote, “India is fighting COVID-19 with full vigour. The approval for world’s first DNA-based ‘ZyCov-D’ vaccine of @ZydusUniverse is a testimony to the innovative zeal of India’s scientists. A momentous feat indeed.” This comment by the Prime Minister came in response to a tweet by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In a tweet, CDSCO wrote, “After evaluation of interim Phase III clinical trial results in consultation with Subject Expert Committee, CDSCO has approved DNA COVID-19 vaccine (ZyCoV-D) of M/s Cadila Healthcare for restricted use in emergency situation in India for 12 years and above.”
Following this, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and added that ‘Make in India’ delivered another significant accomplishment.
“Double good news for the nation! @CDSCO_INDIA_INF approves the 1st DNA-based, needle-free #COVID19 vaccine in the world – ‘ZyCov-D’ of @ZydusUniverse Making children of India COVID-safe, this vaccine can be used for individuals aged 12 and above,” tweeted the Health Minister.
He further added, “‘ZyCov-D’ is the 6th approved #COVID19 vaccine in India, and the 2nd indigenously developed one. PM @NarendraModi ji’s vision of #AatmanirbharBharat and Make in India delivers another significant accomplishment!”
Zydus Cadila received approval for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for ZyCoV-D today, the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA based vaccine for COVID-19 to be administered in humans including children and adults 12 years and above.
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal also congratulated the Zydus Group especially scientists involved in this success under Mission COVID Suraksha. Taking to Twitter, Goyal wrote, “Make In India’s milestone moment – World’s first DNA based COVID-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D gets Emergency Use Authorization for 12 years and above. Congratulations to Zydus Group esp. all scientists involved in this success under Mission COVID Suraksha.”
Zydus Cadila in a tweet also had informed that ZyCoV-D is the only needle-free COVID vaccine in the world.
“Zydus receives EUA from DCGI for ZyCoV-D, the only needle-free COVID vaccine in the world,” tweeted the healthcare company.

Johnson & Johnson seeks regulator nod for single-dose Covid vaccine trials on 12-17 age group in India

The single-shot vaccine of J&J is the second Covid-19 vaccine which has already been approved for the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) through the fast-track approval route by the Drug Controller General of India.

New delhi, india, August 20 : The American-based pharma major Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has applied to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for permission to conduct a vaccine trial of the Covid-19 single shot Janssen vaccine in India on children of 12-17 age group.

The American pharma J&J said in a statement that it had submitted its application on Tuesday, and that it is “imperative” to ensure all sections of the population, including children, are vaccinated against the coronavirus as quickly as possible to stop the virus.

The single-shot vaccine of J&J is the second Covid-19 vaccine which has already been approved for the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) through the fast-track approval route by the Drug Controller General of India.

In the statement, Johnson & Johnson India also said this was an important step forward in accelerating the availability of its Covid-19 vaccine to help end the pandemic.

Earlier, the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had tweeted about the Emergency Use Authorisation being given to Johnson & Johnson.

Mandaviya had tweeted, “India expands its vaccine basket! Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is given approval for Emergency Use in India. Now India has 5 EUA vaccines. This will further boost our nation’s collective fight against COVID19.”

The five vaccines which have been granted emergency use authorization approval in India include Serum Institute’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V, Moderna and now Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Mumbai local train services resume today for fully COVID vaccinated passengers

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Mumbai local train services resumed for people who have taken both the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Sunday, after a gap of four months.

Passengers were restricted from commuting in local trains in the first week of April after the second wave of coronavirus pandemic. Kishore, a commuter said, “It will give relief to the people. People should follow the SOPs and COVID protocols issued by the government.”

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on August 8 that in order to continue the economic cycle, the state government is imposing certain criteria and restrictions to allow ordinary passengers to travel locally.

“Passengers who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel by local from August 15,” Thackeray added.
While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had started with an offline verification process earlier for fully vaccinated people and issuing monthly passes at 53 railway stations.

“…in order to make it convenient for the citizens to travel in local trains and obtain Railway Monthly Pass, an offline verification process for Covid-19 Final Vaccination (completed 14 days after second dose) will start from August 11 at 53 railway stations in BMC jurisdiction area and a total of 109 railway stations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It will be functional in two consecutive sessions from 7 am to 11 pm,” BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said.

“…This will be facilitated both online and offline. The process of creating an app and starting the online process may take a little more time. Hence, the offline process will start from August 11, so that there is no inconvenience to Mumbaikars,” Chahal had added.

UK records another 29,520 coronavirus cases

London [UK]: Another 29,520 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 6,241,011, according to official figures released Saturday.

The country also reported another 93 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 130,894. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test. England lifted almost all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on July 19. Nearly 90 per cent of the adults in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 76 per cent of adults have received both doses, the latest figures showed.

Meanwhile, British holidaymakers will benefit from cheaper travel testing packages, with the price of some tests to fall by a fifth from Saturday.

The cost of NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace tests for international arrivals will now be reduced from 88 pounds (around 122 US dollars) to 68 pounds (around 94 US dollars) for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from 170 pounds (236 US dollars) to 136 pounds (189 US dollars) for two tests for amber arrivals who are not fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

This is the second time pricing of NHS tests has been reduced, following a review in May.

“I am pleased to announce that with immediate effect we’re slashing the price of day 2 and 8 tests from NHS Test and Trace by a fifth – this will benefit people right across the UK. And I look forward to reviewing initial advice from the Competition and Markets Authority over the coming days,” said Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid in a statement.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

Exclusive: Govt may prioritise children with risk factors first for vaccination among pediatric age

New Delhi, Aug 14: Central government may prioritize children with underlying risk factors first when the vaccination against Covid-19 rolls out for the pediatric age, a top government official has said. However, the vaccination for children can start only after immunizing the cohort of the adult population, he added.
Dr NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 working group told UNI that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will recommend the Centre to start the roll-out of vaccines first with the children who are under the risk factor of developing severe complications triggered by Covid-19 disease.
“Our primary task is to immunize the adult population. Then only we will go ahead with the pediatric immunization,” he stated.
“Children below 18 years are 40 crores in population and those with comorbidities may include 20 lakh among them. Their risk factors include immunodeficiency disorders, comorbid conditions, cancer, patients of transplant etc. We will identify them all,” the NTAGI chief informed.
“This issue will be taken up and we will be recommending it to the government,” he added.
Arora also told UNI that the immunization drive for children may begin by the first quarter of 2022, only after the adult vaccination is over, he stressed.
The government expects to get done with the adult vaccination by the end of this year, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha last month.
“In view of the dynamic and evolving nature of COVID-19 pandemic, no fixed timeline at present can be indicated for the completion of vaccination drive, however, it is expected that all beneficiaries aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated by December 2021,” the minister’s response to the parliament read.
India is expected to have a varied portfolio of Covid-19 vaccines both for the adult and pediatric populations. Two candidates in the top run for approval from India’s drug regulator are Zydus Cadila’s and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines, has concluded its trials for the 12-18 age group, and subject to statutory provisions, the vaccine may be available in the near future. Meanwhile, the trials of Covaxin on children, based on the inactivated virus platform, are underway and the results are expected by September.
Last month, the Centre had told the Delhi High Court that Covid-19 vaccines maybe soon available for children between 12 and 18 years of age, and a policy on vaccinating them would be formulated after acquiring approval.
However, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, recently stated that a vaccine for children is more likely to be available by September.

India: 38,353 New Cases

Active caseload lowest in 140 days

New Delhi [India], August 11 : India on Wednesday reported 38,353 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the active caseload to 3,86,351; lowest in 140 days.
As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the highest ever recovery rate of 97.45 per cent has been recorded; 40,013 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, taking the total recoveries across the country to 3,12,20,981. The daily positivity rate remains less than 3 per cent for the last 16 days; presently 2.16 per cent.
The ministry also informed that 51.90 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered under Nationwide Vaccination Drive.
The testing capacity has also been ramped up; a total of 48.50 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted across India.
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the total number of samples tested up to August 10 was 48,50,56,507, including 17,77,962 samples tested yesterday.

Maha govt issues SOPs for schools

Mumbai (Maharashtra): As schools are set to open for specific classes from next week, the Maharashtra government issued SOPs regarding the reopening of schools in the state.

In rural areas, physical classes for 5 to 7 and 8 to 12 in urban areas will resume from August 17. According to SoPs issued, a four-member panel shall be formed to make decisions on opening schools in their respective jurisdiction. This panel shall be headed by the Municipal Commissioner and District Collector of respective districts and cities.

All teachers and school staff need to be fully vaccinated before the opening of schools. Schools shall also be allowed to function in two different shifts.

As per the SOPs, one student should seat on one bench and a distance of 6 metres must be maintained between two benches. Parents will not be allowed in order to avoid overcrowding at school premises. Social gatherings and functions in schools will remain prohibited under the current SOPs. Schools have been asked to ensure arrangements for hand wash and sanitisation.

Local authorities have been asked to look at the decline in Covid case count in the last 30 days in areas where the schools are to be re-opened.

Basic Covid protocols like social distancing, sanitisation and mask-wearing are mandatory.
Last Friday, Maharshtra State Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced the reopening of the schools in both rural and urban areas from August 17.

In Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the respective local authorities will take calls on the re-opening of schools.

Earlier today, Rajesh Tope, the Health Minister of Maharashtra, had said that it is in the hands of local authorities to take decisions on the re-opening of schools in their respective districts.

Pakistan Fights Covid: ADB approves USD 500m loan to help procure COVID-19 vaccines

Manila [Philippines]: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD 500 million loan to help Pakistan procure and deploy safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement its vaccination program.

An ADB press release said that the project will support Pakistan’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan by purchasing and delivering an estimated 39.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, safety boxes, and syringes. It is financed through ADB’s USD 9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB developing member countries, ADB release said.
“Vaccines help to reduce the spread and mortality of COVID-19, restore confidence among citizens, and are vital to the economic recovery,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “This project will help to protect vulnerable groups in Pakistan and is an integral part of the development partner package helping the government to mitigate the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic. ADB reaffirms its full commitment to support Pakistan.”

Amid the Pakistani government’s aim to vaccinate its entire eligible population, ADB’s COVID-19 Vaccine Support Project will provide financing to vaccinate over 18 million people from priority groups or about 15 per cent of the eligible population.

ADB’s assistance will also help to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, and the federal expanded programme on immunization to effectively implement the COVID-19 vaccination program.

The project builds on ADB’s earlier support for Pakistan’s COVID-19 response. This includes a USD 300 million emergency assistance loan to strengthen Pakistan’s public health response, expand treatment of COVID-19 cases, and provide cash transfers to the poorest families.

A USD 500 million COVID-19 active response and expenditure support program loan was approved to support cash transfers to poor families adversely affected by COVID-19-related lockdowns and other government initiatives designed to alleviate the negative economic and social impacts of the pandemic. (ANI)

India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage crosses landmark milestone of 48 cr

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage has crossed the 48 crore landmark milestone, as per the 7 pm provisional report.

New Delhi [India], August 3 : According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), more than 51.51 lakh vaccine doses have been administered on Tuesday, and over 17.33 crore vaccine doses were administered in the age group 18-44, so far as per the 7 pm provisional report. 29,43,889 vaccine doses were administered as the first dose and 3,87,076 vaccine doses were given as the second dose in the age group 18-44 years today. Cumulatively, 16,34,85,422 persons in the age group 18-44 years across 37 States and Union Territories have received their first dose and a total of 98,23,204 have received their second dose since the start of Phase-3 of the vaccination drive,” read the release by the Union Health Ministry.
Five states namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have administered more than one crore cumulative doses of COVID-19 Vaccine in the age group 18-44 years.
Also, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have vaccinated more than 10 lakh beneficiaries of the age group 18-44 years for the first dose of COVID vaccine, the ministry said.
According to the Ministry, total active cases in the country are 4,04,958, and 3,08,96,354 have been recovered and 4,25,195 have succumbed to the disease.

Covishield, Covaxin monthly production capacity projected to increase to 120 and 58 million doses

The monthly vaccine production capacity of Covishield is projected to be increased from 110 million doses per month to more than 120 million doses per month and the production capacity of Covaxin is projected to be increased from 25 million doses per month to around 58 million doses per month, government said.

New Delhi, India, August 3 : As India continues to ramp up its inoculation drive, the Centre on Tuesday said monthly production capacity of Covishield is projected to be increased to more than 120 million doses and of Covaxin to around 58 million doses by December, citing information from the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya was responding to a question on the current capacity to manufacture Covaxin and Covishield in the country, and the expected capacity going forward from August to December 2021.

“As communicated by the manufacturers, the monthly vaccine production capacity of Covishield is projected to be increased from 110 million doses per month to more than 120 million doses per month and the production capacity of Covaxin is projected to be increased from 25 million doses per month to around 58 million doses per month,” the minister said in a written reply.

Further, the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology has launched ‘Mission COVID Suraksha- the Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission’.

The Mission is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a public sector undertaking (PSU) of the Department of Biotechnology, the reply stated.

Under the Mission, facility augmentation of Bharat Biotech and one state public sector enterprise and 2 central public sector enterprises (PSEs) — Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd, Mumbai; Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals Biologicals Limited (BIBCOL), Bulandshahr — for production of Covaxin have been supported.

In addition, technology transfer of Covaxin production to Gujarat COVID Vaccine Consortium (GCVC), including Hester Biosciences and OmniBRx Biotechnologies Pvt Ltd, led by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) of Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat, has also been facilitated, the reply said.

Further, the Centre has also extended financial assistance to one of the domestic manufacturers for ‘At-risk manufacturing’, advance payment against the supply orders placed with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, besides streamlining regulatory norms for approval of vaccines, the reply added.

Vaccination for Older Citizens


New Delhi [India]: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and Delhi Governments on a plea filed by an 84-year-old woman seeking direction to introduce a helpline number for registration of COVID-19 vaccine and a policy on urgent basis for door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination for super senior and bedridden citizens in the national capital.

A Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked the Centre and Delhi Government to file a reply on the plea and listed the matter for further hearing on September 16.
Dhiraj Aggarwal, an octogenarian, through the petition stated that the super senior and bedridden citizens are unable to physically go to the vaccination centres and thus become vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

The petitioner through Advocate Manan Aggarwal claimed that if she goes to a vaccination centre, she could be exposed to COVID-19 which would be life-threatening at her age.

“The petitioner is also suffering from Arthritis and is mostly bedridden for her to get up and go to the vaccine center and to wait for her turn to get a vaccine is not possible and due to her condition, she could not get any shot of the Covid-19 vaccine till date,” the plea said.

The PIL further stated many of the fellow super senior and bedridden citizens do not have the facility of personal transport or don’t even have a family thus making it difficult for them to get registered on the CoWin application and going to the centres to get themselves vaccinated.

“Many countries like Singapore, Australia already have systems in place to vaccinate old age and bedridden citizens at their homes by sending a team comprising a doctor and a nurse at home to administer the vaccine shot. The respondents must introduce a helpline number for registration of covid-19 vaccine and a policy on an urgent basis for door-to-door covid-19 vaccination for super senior and bedridden citizens in Delhi,” the plea read.

Maha: 8 lakh jabs in a day

Mumbai (Maharashtra) : Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on Monday said the state has set a record of vaccinating 8 lakh people in a day against COVID-19, adding it can conduct 1.5 million inoculations in 24 hours.

“Our effort is to make the vaccines available to the people as soon as possible,” Thackeray, the tourism and environment minister said while addressing reporters here today.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra are 82,350, the total number of people who have been recovered are 60,94,896 and 1,32,948 have been succumbed to the disease.

‘Made in India’ Sputnik V doses to be available from September

New Delhi [India] : ‘Made in India’ Sputnik V COVID-19 doses are likely to be available from September-October, said Dr Reddy’s Laboratories on Monday.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said, “We expect that locally manufactured doses are likely to be available from the September-October period.”

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) signed an agreement for the distribution of the Sputnik V vaccine in India.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories also informed that they have received 31.5 lakh doses of component 1 and 4.5 lakh doses of component 2 of the Sputnik V vaccine in India.

“We have received 31.5 lakh doses of component 1 and 4.5 lakh doses of component 2 of the Sputnik V vaccine in India. We are working closely with the RDIF to ramp up supplies. We are also working closely with our partners in India for manufacturing readiness,” read the release by the company.

“The Sputnik V vaccination launch we initiated as a pilot in May 2021 has seen gradual and steady commercial scale-up and roll-out all over India since then, having now reached around 80 cities in India. We have partnered with major hospitals around the country and set up our cold chain infrastructure across more than 300 locations since the vaccine requires -18 degree C temperature,” it added.

Recently Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) also issued a statement and said that the production of Russia’s Sputnik V in India is expected to come fully on stream in September.

“Production in India is expected to come fully onstream in September and RDIF expects India to become a major production hub for the Sputnik V vaccine with such companies as Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech and Morepen Laboratories working to produce the vaccine,” the RDIF said.

Third Covid wave : Surge in mid August, likely to peak in October, India may see 1.50 lakh cases per day

India may see another rise in COVID-19 cases in mid of August with the third wave peaking, with less than 1,00,000 in the best cases scenario and nearly 1,50,000 infections a day in the worst scenario.

New Delhi [India], August 2 : A study by a group of researchers led by Mathukumalli Vidyasagar and Manindra Agrawal at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad and Kanpur have predicted that India is likely to witness another rise in COVID-19 cases in August. However, they have also said that it is likely to be less brutal as the second wave where cases rose to 4 lakhs on a daily basis. Earlier, Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Speaking to ANI said that if the third wave of COVID-19 occurs, it will hit sometime around August-end.
“There might be a third as it is not inevitable than the second wave. If the third wave happens, it will hit sometime around August end, it is not inevitable,” said Dr Panda.
Dr Panda also said, “When will the third wave come and how severe it can be, all these questions are related to many factors which are not known to the full extent.”
India reported 40,134 new cases of COVID-19 and 422 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry on Monday.
The total number of cases currently stands at 3,16,95,958. The death toll has climbed to 4,24,773. The number of active cases of COVID-19 in the country is 4,13,718.
A total of 36,946 patients recovered in the last 24 hours and 3,08,57,467 people have recovered from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. This constitutes an overall recovery rate of 97.35 per cent.
Less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported since thirty-six continuous days. This is a result of sustained and collaborative efforts by the Centre, the States and UTs.
The Centre has currently directed 10 states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, and northeastern regions to take steps to control the spread of the disease.

Health Minister hits back at Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi [India]: Following Rahul Gandhi’s criticism over COVID-19 vaccine shortage in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday took a swipe at the Congress leader by calling him “immature”.

Responding to Gandhi’s tweet, Manndaviya said the vaccination drive in the country is set to get a major boost this month. Asking the Congress leader to be proud of India’s healthcare workers and scientists, the Heath Minister tweeted, “More than 13 crore vaccine doses have been administered in India in the month of July. This is going to further speed up this month. We are proud of our healthcare workers for this feat. Now you should also be proud of them and the nation.”

Further, the Minister said that he has heard that Congress leader is one of those 13 crore people vaccinated in July.
“But neither you said a word about our scientists, nor did you appeal to citizens to get themselves vaccinated. This means you are indulging in petty politics in the name of vaccination. Actually, there is no shortage of vaccines, but you lack maturity,” added Mandaviya.

Earlier today, Rahul Gandhi slammed the Centre over the alleged vaccine shortage across the country.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said, “July is gone, the vaccine shortage hasn’t gone away. #WhereAreVaccines (July chala gaya hai, vaccine ki kami nahin gayi.)”

Meanwhile, as per the Ministry of Health, more than 49,49,89,550 vaccine doses have been provided to the States and UTs so far, and further 8,04,220 doses are in the pipeline for supply.

49.49 Cr doses to States, UTs

New Delhi [India] : Over 49.49 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been provided to States and Union Territories (UTs) so far, through all sources, and a further 8,04,220 doses are in the pipeline, informed the Union Health Ministry on Sunday.

More than 49,49,89,550 vaccine doses have been provided to the States and UTs so far. The total consumption including wastages is 46,70,26,662 doses as per data available with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare at 8 am today.

Around 3,00,58,190 balance and unutilized COVID vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs and private hospitals which need to be administered. The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, reported the Health Ministry.

The new phase of universalization of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on June 21. The Vaccination drive has been worked up through the availability of more vaccines wherein the government has been supporting the States and UTs by providing them COVID vaccines for free, said the ministry.

In the new phase of the universalization of the COVID19 vaccination drive, the Central Government will procure and supply free of cost 75% of the vaccines to the States and Union Territories which are being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country, added the Health Ministry.

Uttrakhand: Education Department issues SOP

New Delhi [India] : The Education Department of Uttarakhand has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the reopening of schools in the state from August 2 for the students of 9-12 classes and from August 16 for 6-8 classes.

“All schools have been asked to strictly follow COVID 19 protocols and classes will function in two shifts where the number of students is higher”, Uttrakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey tweeted.

State Education Secretary Radhika Jha has issued the SOP order on Saturday, stating that classes for 9 to 12 will commence from August 2, and classes for 6 to 8 will be conducted from August 16 in the schools of all education boards.

The order also said that before the opening of the schools, all the classrooms, laboratories, libraries, toilets, drinking water, etc. such places where physical movements of students and teachers take place, should be thoroughly sanitized.

A nodal officer should be nominated by the concerned school, who will be responsible for compliance with the guidelines related to social distancing and Covid protocols.
If any student or teacher or other school staff shows symptoms of cough, cold, or fever, they will be sent back home after giving first aid.

The SOP order said, If a situation of infection arises among the students, teachers, and other staff of the school, then the concerned principal and the nodal officer will be required to inform the district administration or health department immediately.

India reports 37,154 cases

India recorded 37,154 new Covid-19 cases during the past 24 hours, pushing the country’s caseload to 3,08,74,376, while the death toll soared to 4,08,764 with 724 more fatalities, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday.

New Delhi : The active cases declined by 3,219 to stand at 4,50,899. It is now 1.46 per cent of the total caseload.

The past 24 hours saw 39,649 people recovering from the deadly virus, taking the total recovery count to 3,00,14,713, which is 97.22 per cent of the case tally. The fatality rate stood at 1.32 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that a total of 43,23,17,813 lakh samples have been tested so far for coronavirus. Of this, 14,32,343 were tested in the past day.

On the vaccination front, 37,73,52,501 people have been administered Covid-19 vaccines, with 12,35,287 being inoculated in the past 24 hours.

Sabarimala Temple To Reopen

Devotees with complete Covid-19 vaccination certificates or negative RT-PCR report issued within 48 hours will be allowed to Sabarimala temple

Thiruvananthapuram: The Sabarimala temple situated in Kerala is set to open for devotees from 17 to 21 July amid Covid-appropriate norms. The temple authorities in a statement on Saturday said that the devotees will have to strictly follow certain Covid norms in view of the pandemic situation. 

As per the new guidelines, devotees only with complete Covid-19 vaccination certificates or negative RT-PCR report issued within 48 hours will be allowed to enter the temple. Maximum of 5,000 devotees will be allowed through online booking system. 

It is to be noted that at time when country is seeing a declining trend in number of daily covid cases, Kerala has recorded an increase in number of active Covid cases  in the past two days. More than 1,10,000 cases still remain active in the state despite the covid surveillance. 

Kerala has been recording more than 10,000 cases on a daily basis over the past month. More than 30 per cent of the total cases are accounted from Kerala. Of the total population of the state (3.6 crores), eight percent (nearly 30 lakh) have so far been infected by Covid. 

According to the data provided by the Union Health Ministry, over 61 lakh people in Maharashtra have tested positive for Covid while dishing out its positivity rate at less than 5 per cent. On the flip side, Kerala with a lesser population compared to Maharashtra, recorded a Test Positivity Rate of more than 10 per cent, which is the reason to get the state under scanner. 

Economy Showing Signs Of Revival Due To Rapid Vaccination: Finance Ministry

The Finance Ministry on Friday said the economy has started showing signs of revival from the impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on the back of targeted fiscal relief, monetary policy and a rapid vaccination drive.

“The broad-based economic relief package, extended to mitigate the second wave, amounted to Rs 6.29 lakh crore. RBI continues with its efforts to calm the nerves of the market and revive sectors with both backward and forward linkages and multiplier effects on growth,” the ministry said in its monthly economic review.

To stimulate the economy and ease the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman last month announced eight economic measures amounting to Rs 6.29 lakh crore to provide relief to individuals as well as businesses in the country.

Apart from eight relief measures announced in health and other worst affected sectors, Sitharaman announced a stimulus package for the tourism industry, which included five lakh tourist visas to be issued free of charge, once the government resumes issuance. The total financial implication of the scheme will be Rs 100 crore.

Resilient tax collections of the central government in the first two months of FY 2020-21 and sustained momentum in capital expenditure, particularly in the road and rail sector, the report said, augurs well for continued economic recovery driven by capital expenditures.

The report further added that the recently announced economic relief package was “expected to further oil the wheels of the Capex cycle via implementation of the PLI scheme and streamlining of processes for PPP Projects and Asset Monetisation”.

Consumption sentiment is expected to pick up with further enhancement of employment support under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ANBRY), targeted support to the urban poor through the credit guarantee scheme for on-lending by micro-finance institutions and wider Bharat-Net digitisation coverage, the economic review for June said.

Free food-grain and enhanced fertiliser subsidies under the package along with continued MGNREGA implementation, on the other hand, would serve as a cushion for rural demand in the coming quarters, it said.

“Maintaining a rapid pace on vaccination and quickly bridging health care infrastructure gaps across both urban and rural areas would emerge as the most sustainable stimulus for durable recovery of the Indian economy,” the report added.

Going forward, it said, further expansion of vaccination and strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour will be a critical safeguard against the emergence of a possible third wave.

On high food prices, the report said, healthy monsoon coverage, gradually rising Kharif sowing and unlocking of states is expected to ease food, and thereby headline inflation.

However, it said, risks due to global demand-led recovery in commodity prices and input cost pressures remain.

About global economic growth, it said this has continued its upward trajectory in June 2021.

Falling COVID-19 infections and accelerating vaccinations consolidated US recovery and renewed growth prospects in the Euro Area, it said, adding global trade remained buoyant with an uptick in global commercial flight and port activity, which portends well for Indian exports.

However, it said, the resurgence of delta variant infections, firming inflationary pressures, unequal access to vaccination and burgeoning debt levels continue to lend substantial uncertainty to the global economic outlook.

Navi Mumbai civic body vaccinates sex workers

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) held a special anti-coronavirus vaccination camp for sex workers in the city, a civic official said on Saturday.

The camp was organised on Friday as part of the civic body’s attempt to cover the neglected sections of the society under the vaccination programme, spokesperson of the NMMC, Mahendra Konde, said.

Seventy-eight sex workers were administered vaccines during this drive, he said.

The corporation’s drive to vaccinate the homeless people has been appreciated by the central government, the official added.

NMMC Commissioner Abhijit Bangar said every effort was being made to cover every citizen in Navi Mumbai under the vaccination programme.

“At present, there are 76 vaccination centres in the city and we are making arrangements to increase this figure to 100 to expedite the inoculation,” he said.

UK Government Plans To Decrease The Gaps Between Two Doses Of Covid-19 Vaccinations

The UK government has ruled out plans to decrease the gaps between two doses of Covid-19 vaccinations, even as infections driven by the Delta variant are surging in the country.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ruled out the three-week gap and recommended “an interval of 8 to 12 weeks between doses of all the available Covid-19 vaccines”, dashing hopes that the UK might be able to speed up the vaccination program by closing the gaps between doses, the Financial Times reported.

The advisory body said this gap would “avoid confusion and simplify booking, and will help to ensure a good balance between achieving rapid and long-lasting protection.”

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK is “very likely” to ease lockdown measures on July 19. It was pushed back by four weeks from June 21 amid concern over the spread of the Delta variant.

Easing of lockdown measures could be a cause of concern as the country will not meet its target of ensuring two-thirds of adults with two jabs, FT cited people familiar with the UK vaccination programme.

Experts from the National Health Service (NHS) and scientists are concerned as only 63 per cent in the country are fully vaccinated, while more than 85 per cent received only the first dose of a Covid vaccine. At the same time latest data showed Covid-19 infections have jumped by 74 per cent week-on-week.

“We may have weakened the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths but this significant increase in infections with the Delta variant raises serious concerns,” Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School, was quoted as saying.

“One risk was that, as the virus spread it would continue to generate new variants increasing the risk that one will pop up that is more vaccine resistant,” he added.

While some suspect that the decision to not reduce the gap between the two jabs is due to difficulty in accessing supplies. However, government insiders have denied supply constraints, the report said.

But, Prof Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI said: “regardless of supply constraints the minimum eight-week gap was preferable as it meant young people, who may not receive boosters in the autumn, had robust and long-lasting protection.

Vaccination strategy vital: Lancet report

Flexible and agile vaccination strategies can play a vital role in protecting lives in India as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, according to the latest Lancet report. The report ‘Responsive and Agile Vaccination Strategies Against COVID-19 in India’ published by the Lancet Global Health on Friday highlighted the importance of sentinel site-based surveillance and detection of early warning signal through test positivity ratio (TPR).

“Our analysis offers a demonstration of the principle that even limited vaccination resources could be marshalled for maximum impact if deployed flexibly in response to a rapidly evolving epidemic,” the report said.

It said the experience from influenza pandemics in 1918 and 2009, as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic in other countries, highlight the potential for not just two, but subsequent waves of infection.

“Flexible, agile vaccination strategies could thus play an important part in protecting lives and livelihoods as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold,” it said.

The report noted that innovative measures currently being tried in India like establishing satellite vaccination centres closer to hamlets in rural settings and resident welfare associations in urban areas; converting community halls and using large parking spaces for drive-in vaccination, and using mobile vaccination facilities to cover populations that do not live within easy access of vaccination centres.

“Such community-based outreach activities, along with transport facilities for older and less physically able individuals (from their homes to satellite vaccination sites), will reduce the distance between main vaccination session sites and the potential recipients.

“Active engagement of community-based organisations in such planning and execution will also be crucial, not only for successful implementation of vaccination but also in addressing vaccine hesitancy,” it said.

It further said that as India has already administered 199 million doses of vaccine, and records for adverse events following immunisation have “reassuringly captured a very low rate of side-effects”, the possibility of shortening the observation period following vaccination is being discussed.

“Such measures will help to speed up vaccination while maintaining safety,” it said.

It also noted that there is a “mixed picture” on the single-dose efficacy of currently available vaccines against B.1.617.2, the dominant COVID-19 variant in India.

“Currently, there is a mixed picture on single-dose efficacy of currently available vaccines against B.1.617.2, the dominant variant now circulating in India. Early findings from the UK suggest that for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, single-dose efficacy against this variant is substantially reduced when considering symptomatic infection as an endpoint.”

“However, more recent findings suggest that protection against hospitalisation is as high as 71 per cent. Similarly, single-dose protection against hospitalisation has been reported among healthcare workers in India,” the report said.

It also stated that additional analysis illustrates that rapid-response vaccination could still have a substantial effect on deaths, even if single-dose vaccine efficacy were reduced to 30 per cent.

The Lancet report suggested that a strategy might be pre-emptively to identify and vaccinate those districts most at risk of resurgence-through serological surveys to identify regions with lower levels of previous exposure.

“However, predicting risk in this way is far from straightforward; for example, major cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi were among the cities with the highest seroprevalence in India’s first wave, and yet were the first to see a resurgence in the ongoing second wave.

“It will be important to adjust for population density and other factors to make systematic comparisons of seroprevalence across different regions, but a collection of the necessary evidence will take time. In the immediate term, more rapidly deployable strategies are urgently needed,” it added.

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