India has bucked the global trend and is showing continued improvement in containing the Covid-19 outbreak, senior government officials said Tuesday, but warned that trends in other countries are also a strong reminder of how the situation is rapidly spiraling out of control may even if a peak is included.
In routinely briefing the government on the situation in Covid-19, Union Health Minister Rajesh Bhushan and Niti Aayog (Health) member VK Paul also enumerated the nationwide preparatory work for logistics and training necessary for the delivery of vaccines are needed to hundreds of millions of people by next summer.
“Active cases have dropped from over 10 lakh in mid-September to less than 4 lakh now … India’s cumulative death rate has also dropped to 6.37%, and when you factor in last week, it’s 3%.” Bhushan said before speaking about the continued surge in infections and deaths in other countries.
Paul described the contrast between India and the world as both a warning and a source of satisfaction. “It’s a reminder of the nature of the virus because even we could get a second wave of infections and deaths because of this virus behavior. Things can take a drastic turn even after they have stabilized. The most important lesson is not to take things for granted, ”he said.
On the other hand, he added, “It is comforting that we are saving lives. Our situation now is like July. People are now saying that the R-value has dropped below 1 and the outbreak is shrinking. Paul continued to emphasize the need to be careful and said, “Remember, we have large numbers of people who are vulnerable.”
On Tuesday, 26,249 new infections were reported nationwide, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 9,932,841, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard. The disease has killed 385 more patients in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 144,149 deaths in the country.
The Niti Aayog official highlighted the state capital’s case and congratulated the Delhi government and the departments involved on bringing the outbreak under control. “But even if many regions are improving, some like Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Himachal Pradesh are still a problem. We have contact with officials there, ”said Paul.
Preparations are underway to prepare local officials to receive and administer vaccines, Bhushan said. This process is expected to affect nearly 300 million people by the middle of next year. “We will be using 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined freezers, 41,000 freezers and 300 solar fridges. All of this has already reached states and more devices are being shipped, ”added the Minister of Health.
The supplies were among the three main focuses of the detailed guidelines sent to the states. These were mainly concerned with the assignment of responsibilities (Bhushan said 23 ministries and departments of the center and states have been briefed on their roles), the training and equipping of the people who will be involved in the logistics and administration of recordings, as well respond to possible side effects with supervision and monitoring.
“Instructions have been given on minor, major, and major AEFIs (post-immunization adverse effects). States will identify an AEFI administrative center in each block, which could be fixed health facilities. Each AEFI management center is assigned to each meeting location (vaccination center) to ensure that people can be brought to them immediately, ”said Bhushan.
These preparations are made while at least three vaccine candidates are being assessed for emergency approval. Paul said there was good progress in the vaccine pipeline, highlighting a candidate from Gennova based on the same mRNA platform as the doses developed by Pfizer and Moderna and cleared for clinical trials last week. “Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, this vaccine requires normal cold chain temperatures,” Paul said.
Of course, this vaccine candidate has just been approved for phase 1/2 studies. It will then be entered into Phase 3 studies, subject to approval.
“We now have six vaccines that are being tested on humans in India,” he said, adding that the approval and evaluation process is being conducted in an independent and objective manner. “This process is being carried out by independent experts, and people should be confident that any vaccine approved is based on established scientific and global parameters,” the officials said.
The Drugs Controller General of India is reviewing applications for emergency use approval from Pfizer, the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech. Of these, Pfizer was approved in several countries after completing Phase III studies and found near 95% efficacy.
The Serum Institute has filed for approval of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, which according to an interim analysis has an efficacy of 62 to 90%. Bharat Biotech is currently conducting phase III studies. Both companies have been asked by the DCGI’s Committee of Experts (SEC) to provide more data on their trials so that their applications can be assessed.