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Chikungunya cases spike by 150 per cent in a week

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New Delhi,20 Sep :According to the latest report, Chikungunya increased nearly 150 per cent over the preceding week.

Nearly 4,000 people have tested positive for chikungunya and dengue, according to MCD data.
According to the latest figures, 1,568 cases of chikungunya were reported in just one week till September 17.

The total number of chikungunya cases till September 17 stood at 2,625, compared to 1,057 in the previous week. In the week preceding September 17, 497 cases had been reported.
Areas under SDMC limits have been the worst affected in number of chikungunya cases being reported — 202 for the season. MCD data says 37 cases were of people who acquired the infection from outside Delhi. While 1,283 chikungunya cases were recorded from areas outside the jurisdiction of the municipal corporations, addresses were not available for 1,018 patients among these cases.
So far at least 12 deaths due to chikungunya-related complications have been reported in the capital, the MCD has not acknowledged them as chikungunya deaths in the latest report.
At least 220 fresh cases of dengue were reported in the last week, while 607 cases were recorded this month till September 17, according to the MCD data. So far this season, 1,378 cases of dengue have been reported. The MCD continued to maintain that only four dengue deaths had taken place, even as AIIMS alone confirmed nine dengue-related deaths in the national capital.
In 2015, when the capital saw its worst dengue outbreak, 3,791 cases were reported. Again, areas under SDMC jurisdiction are the worst affected, with 302 cases being reported during the season.

The MCD data shows as many as 500 cases of dengue were reported by persons who acquired the infection from outside Delhi.

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Researchers link anxiety to high Alzheimer’s disease onset risk

Each person had a baseline diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment; 72 progressed to Alzheimer’s disease while 267 remained stable.

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New York: Researchers have discovered that anxiety is associated with an increased rate of progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.

Anxiety has been frequently observed in patients with mild cognitive impairment, although its role in disease progression is not well documented.

“We know that volume loss in certain areas of the brain is a factor that predicts progression to Alzheimer’s disease,” said study senior author Maria Vittoria Spampinato from the University of South Carolina in the US.

“In this study, we wanted to see if anxiety had an effect on brain structure, or if the effect of anxiety was independent from brain structure in favoring the progression of disease,” Spampinato added.

The study group included 339 patients, average age of 72 years, from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 2 cohort.

Each person had a baseline diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment; 72 progressed to Alzheimer’s disease while 267 remained stable.

The researchers obtained brain MRIs to determine the baseline volumes of the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, two areas important to forming memories.

They also tested for the presence of the ApoE4 allele, the most prevalent genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Anxiety was measured with established clinical surveys.

As expected, patients who progressed to Alzheimer’s disease had significantly lower volumes in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex and greater frequency of the ApoE4 allele.

Most notably though, the researchers found that anxiety was independently associated with cognitive decline.

The link between anxiety symptoms and a faster progression to Alzheimer’s disease presents an opportunity for improving the screening and management of patients with early mild cognitive impairment, the researchers said.

For future research, the team would like to study MRIs obtained after the initial scan to better understand the connection between anxiety and brain structure.

The study was scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) from November 29 to December 5.

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Covaxin Phase-3 trials begin in AIIMS

Covaxin, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

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COVAXIN Corona Covid vaccine

New Delhi: The Phase-III human trials of indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin began at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Thursday.

M V Padma Srivastava, the chief of Neurosciences Centre and three other volunteers received the first dose of Covaxin.

Around 15,000 volunteers at AIIMS will be given the shot as part of the clinical trials.

Bharat Biotech announced the commencement of Phase-III trials of Covaxin on November 16. The Phase-III trials will involve 26,000 volunteers across India, conducted in partnership with ICMR.

It is the largest clinical trial conducted for a COVID-19 vaccine in India. This is India’s first Phase-III efficacy study for a COVID-19 vaccine, and the largest phase III efficacy trial ever conducted in India.

Trial volunteers will receive two intramuscular injections approximately 28 days apart. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive Covaxin or placebo. The trial is double blinded, such that the investigators, the participants and the company will not be aware of who is assigned to which group.

Covaxin has been evaluated in 1,000 subjects in Phase-I and Phase-II clinical trials, with promising safety and immunogencity data. Volunteers who wish to participate in this trial should be adults over 18 years of age.

Covaxin, India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

This indigenous, inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio containment facility. Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated vaccine, manufactured in a vero cell manufacturing platform with an excellent safety track record of more than 300 million doses supplied.

This multicenter phase-III study is conducted at the following sites across India. Participating Volunteers who undergo vaccination in the Phase-III trials, will be monitored to detect occurrence of COVID-19 disease.

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Oxford vaccine viable even at 60-70% efficacy: Serum Institute

The PM visit will be followed by a visit by ambassadors and High Commissioners from around 100 countries, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.

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The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate, even at the lowest efficacy of 60-70 per cent, is a viable one against the novel coronavirus, the Serum Institute of India (SII) said on Thursday.

SII has partnered with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine candidate.

“Even though the lowest efficacy results are at 60-70%, it is a viable vaccine against the virus. That said, varied age groups with different dosage forms will result in slight variations and efficacy. We must be patient and not panic,” SII said in a statement.

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India trial results not in

The efficacy results of AstraZeneca were based on trials being conducted in the United Kingdom and Brazil. It does not include the trials of the same vaccine being conducted by the Serum Institute in India. The results of the Indian trials are expected to come out in December.

The statement — a couple of days before PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the company — comes amid an acknowledgment on Wednesday by AstraZeneca of a key error in the dosage received by some of the study participants of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate AZD1222 (named Covishield in India).

According to partial results announced on Monday from ongoing trials in the UK and Brazil, the vaccine showed a striking difference in efficacy, depending on the amount delivered. A regimen of two full doses given a month apart was 62 per cent effective while participants who received half a dose of the vaccine in the first round and then the full dose a month later were found to be 90 per cent less likely to develop Covid-19. The average efficacy was pegged around 70 per cent.

But on Wednesday, according to reports, AstraZeneca admitted that the half dose was an error since some of the vials did not have the right vaccine concentration.

In its statement, SII said there were no concerns about the trial in India.

“The Indian trials are running smoothly with strict adherence to all the necessary processes and protocols. So far, there are no concerns. However, we are going through the data that is available and will make a further statement, if needed,” the statement said.

Phase 3 trials are underway across 17 sites in the country and data on the Indian trials should be out in a month or so, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier told The Indian Express.

While scientists and experts say a vaccine with efficacy of 60 per cent and above is good, they have, however, raised concerns over the company’s communication strategy.

When contacted, Dr Gagandeep Kang, virologist and professor of Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “You need to be absolutely straight upfront and transparent. We have learnt that the low dose in the Oxford study with higher efficacy was an accident. To first say that low dose gives 90 per cent efficacy and later say that the dose was an error creates doubt about the process that is unnecessary.”

Saying she “trusted the researchers at Oxford”, Kang said, “Usually when the researchers at Oxford work on vaccines, they go all the way through Phase 1 and sometimes through Phase 2 of the trial on their own. I understand that in this case, they were advised to not do everything on their own and as early as possible link up with a large vaccine company. Oxford started to work with AstraZeneca and this error in dosing may have happened in that switch from doing early phase studies themselves and the later trials with AstraZeneca. This would need to be informed to the regulators and in the trial registry.”

However, none of this is any reason to dismiss the vaccine, she said. “This is not a vaccine that should be put in the dustbin just because of 60 per cent efficacy. It is a good vaccine that has exceeded the WHO and FDA benchmarks. There is a lot more data to come and we will learn more when it does,” she said.

Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said he was intrigued by the results. “As a scientist, I am now thinking what sort of response would one get if the first dose was even smaller – half of what they give — whether by design or accident, I don’t care. Would one get an equal or better response then?” Dr Jameel told.

Calling the results a “blessing in disguise”, he said, “The advantage is that if half or quarter dose gives a better response, then there would be twice as many vaccine doses to vaccinate people. That is a big plus. Many scientific discoveries have happened serendipitously,” he said.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Serum Institute of India “to understand the process of vaccine production and distribution”. Officials said the PM would reach around 1 pm and depart around 2.30 pm.

The PM visit will be followed by a visit by ambassadors and High Commissioners from around 100 countries, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.

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