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CDC: 279 pregnant women in U.S. have Zika virus

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WASHINGTON — President Obama meets with top public health officials Friday morning amid new reports that 279 pregnant women from the United States and its territories have shown signs of infection from the Zika virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionsaid Friday that 157 pregnant women in the continental United States — and 122 in its territories — have tested positive for the virus, which can cause severe birth defects and miscarriages.

Less than a half-dozen of those women have reported adverse outcomes, but most are still pregnant and it’s not yet known whether those numbers will increase over time, said Dr. Margaret Honein, chief of the CDC’s Birth Defects Branch.

The new numbers count, for the first time, women who have tested positive for Zika even if they haven’t shown symptoms, so they’re not comparable to previously reported numbers. Previously, just 48 women in the continental United States “I think it’s a combination of both — both increasing numbers of pregnant women with a Zika infection, and also a recent change in how we’re reporting out the numbers on a weekly basis,” Honein said.

At the White House, Obama is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Frieden.

 

Disaster

Novavax begins clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine in Australia

US biotech firm Novavax begins Covid-19 vaccine trials on Australian volunteers after getting $388mn from Bill Gates-backed fund

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Bill Gates Covid Vaccine

Sydney, May 26 : US-based biotechnology company Novavax is testing a new coronavirus vaccine on human subjects for the first time, launching a phase one clinical trial with a massive grant from an agency founded by Bill Gates, kicking off a storm of concerns online.

Preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial are expected in July 2020, Novavax said on Monday.

“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic,” said Stanley Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax.

“We look forward to sharing the clinical results in July and, if promising, quickly initiating the Phase 2 portion of the trial.”

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts. The Phase 1 portion of the trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia.

The Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the US, and would assess immunity, safety and Covid19 disease reduction in a broader age range.

The trial is being supported by the recently announced funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.

NVX-CoV2373 includes Novavax’ proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance immune responses and stimulate high levels of neutralising antibodies.

Novavax said it identified NVX-CoV2373 as its lead SARS-CoV-2 candidate following pre-clinical testing that demonstrated high immunogenicity and high levels of neutralising antibodies.

The availability of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 is well-recognised as a key tool to control the pandemic. At the same time, the efforts needed to rapidly develop, evaluate and produce this at scale are enormous.

According to the WHO, it is important to evaluate as many vaccines as possible as we cannot predict how many will turn out to be viable.

To increase the chances of success, it is critical to test all candidate vaccines until they fail, the WHO said, adding that it is working to ensure that all of them have the chance of being tested at the initial stage of development.

Over 120 vaccines have been proposed across the world including in India.

There are currently several vaccines in clinical evaluation, and about 70 in pre-clinical evaluation.

India’s Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that at least four of the 14 candidate vaccines for novel coronavirus in the country may enter the clinical trial stage very soon.

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BJP states concealing Covid-19 data, says Maharashtra Congress

Taking a swipe at Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, the Congress leader advised his BJP to “first look at the failed Gujarat model” before criticising this state.

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Sachin Sawant

Mumbai, May 26 : In a blistering counter-attack, the Congress’ Maharashtra unit on Tuesday alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states like Gujarat are suppressing Covid-19 data and indulging in politics during the ongoing pandemic.

While Gujarat is not conducting enough Covid-19 tests, all BJP-administered states in the country are concealing the real coronavirus data, state party Spokesperson and General Secretary Sachin Sawant claimed.

“The Gujarat High Court has lambasted the Gujarat healthcare system terming the hospitals there as worse than dungeons and compared the situation to a sinking ship like ‘Titanic’. The situation is near-identical in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,” Sawant told media persons.

Taking a swipe at Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, the Congress leader advised his BJP to “first look at the failed Gujarat model” before criticising this state.

He pointed out that the Gujarat HC had taken suo moto cognizance of a doctor’s complaint and come down heavily on the Gujarat healthcare system which is paralysed, exposing the inefficiency of the BJP government there.

Adding to this was the state Advocate-General’s submission to the court that “more tests may lead to 70 per cent of the population testing Covid-19 positive, thereby creating a fear psychosis among the people”.

With the current population of Ahmedabad estimated to be 78 lakh, and with 70 per cent potentially Covid-19 positive, there could be a minimum 40 lakh patients only in that city, Sawant said, adding the BJP has no right to criticise the Maharashtra government.

“In Maharashtra, the government is working scientifically, not indulging in clapping, lighting lamps or clanging plates. The situation is tough now, but when the Opposition points it out, the government takes suitable steps. Corona is the enemy of humanity, but the power-hungry BJP leaders in the state and Centre consider the state government as its enemy,” said Sawant sharply.

Against this, he recalled how the entire state including the (then) Opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party stood by Fadnavis when he was the state CM, though his party president Chandrakant Patil made irresponsible statements then.

In the same vein, Sawant urged the BJP leaders including Fadnavis, Narayan Rane and Subramaniam Swamy to cooperate with the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, arrange for funds to be released from the Centre, more trains for migrants and other forms of assistance in public interest.

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Delhi govt orders 28 ventilators, 435 oxygen concentrators

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

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ventilator, prototype

New Delhi, May 26 : Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Delhi Health Department has placed orders for 30,000 PPE kits, 3.5 lakh N-95 masks, 28 ventilators and 435 oxygen concentrators, according to a statement by the Raj Niwas, here on Tuesday.

The Secretary (Health) also presented the ‘situational analysis of Covid-19 in Delhi’ to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

Up to May 25, there were 14,053 confirmed cases in Delhi. Of this, 6,771 patients recovered or migrated. The case fatality rate in Delhi is 1.96 per cent against the national average of 2.57 per cent.

As on May 25, the Lt Governor was informed, 34 labs were functional for Covid-19 tests. Till date, 1,74,469 cumulative tests had been conducted with the positivity rate as on May 25 being 8.06 per cent.

Adequate supply of medical essentials has been ensured and more ventilators are being procured. At present, 4,462 beds, 429 ICUs, 343 ventilators and 2,632 oxygen supported beds are available in the Covid hospitals.

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

The Secretary also informed Baijal about augmentation of the bed capacity by 25 per cent in private hospitals with 50 plus beds, earmarking of 20 per cent beds for Covid patients in these hospitals, daily health monitoring of the home isolated Covid patients and raising isolation beds in the CCCs.

The Lt. Governor asked the Health Department to review medical infrastructure capacity building and remove bottlenecks immediately. The trend of the past 10-15 days should be analysed for future management, Baijal said and advised monitoring of containment zones on a dynamic basis for focused action.

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