Coronavirus updates | Sputnik Light gets DCGI nod for Phase -3 trial

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India reported 27,487 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, according to Union Health Ministry data. Total cases have now climbed to 3,33,15,512 while deaths have risen to 4,43,528, as of 08:00 am on Wednesday.

The country has also administered 75,89,12,277 doses of COVID-19 vaccine so far.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest developments:


Sputnik Light gets DCGI nod for Phase -3 trial

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has recommended that the single-dose version of the Sputnik V vaccine—Sputnik Light—be tested in Indians to establish that it generates a similar immune response to trials in Russia.

On June 30, the Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories licensed to manufacture the vaccine, presented updated safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data of Phase III clinical trial of the single-dose version conducted in Russia along with the proposal to conduct a Phase III clinical trial.

In a meeting on August 5, the expert committee of the DCGI permitted the trial with the condition that the vaccine’s efficacy also be evaluated on the 42nd, 90th and 180th day following the second dose. “… Interim analysis can be conducted at day 42 as this data was not generated during the Sputnik V trial in India after first dose, which was stated to be available up to day 21 only,” read the minutes of the meeting made public on Wednesday.



DDMA allows fairs, exhibitions; junior schools to remain shut

Exhibitions, public fairs and business events will be allowed in the Capital starting tomorrow with strict adherence to COVID protocol, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) said in an order on Wednesday.

The DDMA stated that Business to Business and Business to Customers exhibitions will be allowed from September 16 to September 30.

The Authority also said all schools up to class 8 will continue to remain shut. However, classes, institutes and libraries above 8th standard are allowed to open with 50% capacity.

-Inputs from Jatin Anand


China imposes local lockdowns as COVID-19 cases surge

China tightened lockdowns and increased orders for mass testing in cities along its east coast Wednesday amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.

The National Health Commission on Wednesday said an additional 50 cases had been diagnosed in various parts of Fujian, most of them in the Putian region. Fujian has also seen at least 152 new cases in recent days.



Latest debate: How long does immunity against COVID-19 last after vaccination?

Reports of health agencies in parts of the world considering a booster dose against fading immunity, particularly among the elderly, even after two doses of vaccine, has raised the uncomfortable question in India, which is struggling to vaccinate its vast population.

Several experts from Karnataka argued against the need for a booster dose while saying that “a breakthrough infection itself will act like a booster dose”.

A human body produces better antibody response against COVID-19 through natural infection than a third dose of vaccination,” said Dr. Mudassir Azeez Khan, Head of Community Medicine at Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMC&RI).


Krishna’s COVID mortality rate over 2.2% in past month 

Krishna district continues to witness more COVID deaths than any other district compared to the number of infections reported. Since the first wave, the district reported the highest mortality rate and the same trend continues even now after about 550 days.

During the past fortnight, the State reported 162 deaths and 37, which was nearly one-fourth of them, were from Krishna district. Similarly, in the past month, 388 deaths were reported in the State and 90 of them were from Krishna district alone.


Corporation serves notice on nursing college after 25 students test positive

Coimbatore Corporation has served notice on a nursing college in Saravanampatti after 25 students tested COVID-19 positive. Sources said the civic body served the notice on the college management asking why it was not alerted about the students testing positive.

Under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, the Corporation had served the notice as the management was duty bound to pass on the information.

The students had contracted the infection from two students who had arrived from Kerala. At the time of crossing the inter-State border, the students had the requisite documents and showed no symptoms.



Longer inter-dosage interval may offer better immunity

COVID-19 vaccination with an inter-dosage interval of 10-14 weeks elicits a stronger immune response than when the vaccine is delivered at an interval of 4-6 weeks, a study done amongst a closely followed patient cohort in Kochi has reported.

The difference in immune response, when the interval between shots is extended, is more than three-fold. The longer the gap between the two shots, the higher the levels of anti-spike protein antibody response produced. This essentially means that two doses of vaccine delivered at a longer interval is likely to give stronger and longer-lasting immunity against COVID-19, says Padmanabha Shenoy, a clinical immunologist and rheumatologist at Kochi, who led the study.



Schools set to reopen in Kodagu on September 17

The long wait of students has finally ended as the schools and colleges in Kodagu are set to reopen for resuming physical classes for the first time this year in the wake of the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) falling below 2% in the district. The classes will resume from Friday.

The government had not permitted schools and colleges to reopen in Kodagu in view of the worrying TPR, which was above 2% for a long period. Thus, even as schools reopened in other districts, they remained closed in Kodagu. Kodagu’s proximity to Kerala was another reason the State went slow on reopening schools.

Classroom teaching for students of classes VI to X and PU will begin from Friday as government, aided and unaided schools will reopen. All PU colleges will reopen for offline classes.



Jharkhand allows visitors to religous places, offline classes

The Jharkhand government on Tuesday allowed entry of visitors to religious places, including the famous Baidyanath Dham temple in Deoghar and allowed setting up of Durga puja pandals subject to compliance of Covid-19 protocol.

The government also allowed offline classes for all undergraduate and postgraduate classes in colleges.

Offline classes have been allowed from classes 6 to 8 in schools, while all sports activities have been allowed to be organised without spectators. Bars and restaurants were also allowed to open till 11:00 pm.



DDMA yet to take call on reopening of schools for junior classes, staging of Ramleelas

The apex body of Covid management in the national capital, DDMA, is yet to take a call on allowing schools to reopen for junior classes and staging of Ramleelas in public places, amid growing demands from various quarters.

The latest Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order, listing prohibited and allowed activities under the phased reopening following the Covid-induced lockdown, will expire on Wednesday midnight.

Many private schools have demanded that the Delhi government allow students in class 6-8 to physically attend classes, claiming the coronavirus situation has improved significantly in the city.



Vaccination drive in Hassan on Friday

The Hassan district administration has planned a COVID-19 vaccination drive on September 17 aiming to cover 80,000 people on the day. It will set up booths on the lines of the pulse polio campaign across the district.

Deputy Commissioner R. Girish, on Tuesday, said over 1,200 booths would be set up. Along with the Health and Family Welfare Department staff, final year students of nursing colleges would be involved.

The DC appealed to the public to make use of the drive to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “We can fight COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and there is no need to worry. Those who have not yet taken the vaccination should approach the nearest booth and get it,” he said.



Govt. told to decide on petition to allow visitors in places of worship

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the AAP government to take a decision on a representation seeking that visitors to religious places be allowed, subject to strict compliance of COVID-19 protocol.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh gave the direction while dealing with a plea by NGO Distress Management Collective.

“This prolonged prohibition on visitors from going to religious places has become a matter of distress for not just religious leaders but to the believers at large,” the plea said.



Night curfew in A.P. extended till September 30

The State government has extended the night curfew imposed to check the spread of coronavirus infection till September 30. The decision was taken at a review meeting of the Health Department chaired by Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday.

The officials informed the Chief Minister that the State’s daily positivity rate stood at 2.23%, against the weekly positivity rate of 2.31%. The recovery rate was steady at 98.6 % and 10,541 secretariats have reported zero cases.



Govt plans to vaccinate 32.9 lakh persons on PM Modi’s birthday

The Madhya Pradesh government has set itself a target of vaccinating 32.90 lakh persons against COVID-19 on September 17, the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an official said on Tuesday.

To accelerate vaccination and cover all those who have not been inoculated so far, a “mega campaign 3.0” will be launched from September 17 as per Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s directions, a government spokesperson said.

The State is aiming to inoculate 32.90 lakh persons on that day, said Dr. Santosh Shukla, director (vaccination) of the National Health Mission.


CM provides ₹10 lakh aid to kin of COVID warrior

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday handed over a cheque of ₹10 lakh as financial assistance to the wife of Amit Singh Damia who succumbed while on COVID duty.

The aid was provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and received by Dr. Damia’s wife Manmeet Alang at the Chief Minister’s residence.

“Dr. Amit did continuous duty during COVID-19 and served patients with full dedication. I met his family today and handed over a cheque of ₹10 lakh to the family as financial aid. This is a small gesture of help from our side,” Mr. Kejriwal said.


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