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Covid19: Sonia Gandhi has 5 suggestions for PM Modi

She also targeted the PM CARES-fund and demanded that all money under ‘PM Cares’ fund should be transferred to ‘Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund’ (PM-NRF).

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, April 7 : A day after her telephonic conversation with the Prime Minister on the fight against Covid-19, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting five measures to curb government “expenditure” and to divert money in fighting the deadly virus.

Sonia Gandhi has 5 suggestions for PM Modi #Covid19

? Suspend all govt, PSU ads

? Suspend Central Vista project

? 30% reduction in Expenditure Budget (not salaries) to use as economic safety net

? Put all foreign visits on hold

? Transfer money from PM CARES to PMNRF

Sonia Gandhi in her letter suggested to Scrap Central Vista project of approximately Rs 20000 crore, suspension of government advertisements and foreign visits of ministers and other dignitaries, and asked to divert the money to PMNRF from PM-CARES fund.

Sonia Gandhi in her letter wrote to convey her support to the decision taken by the Union Cabinet to reduce salaries for Members of Parliament by 30 per cent. Austerity measures which can be used to divert much needed funds to the fight against Covid-19 are the need of the hour, she said.

“In this spirit, I am writing to offer five concrete suggestions. I am certain you will find value in them.”

The first suggestion Sonia Gandhi made was to impose a complete ban on media advertisements – television, print and online – by the Government and Public Sectors Undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years.

“The only exceptions should be advisories for Covid-19 or for issues relating to public health. Given that the Central Government currently spends an average of Rs 1250 crore per year on media advertisements (not including an equal or greater amount spent by PSUs and Government companies), this will free up a substantial amount to alleviate the economic and social impacts of Covid-19.” wrote Sonia Gandhi

The Congress President suggested to suspend Rs 20,000 crore ‘Central Vista’ beautification and construction project forthwith. “At a time like this, such an outlay seems self-indulgent to say the least. I am certain that Parliament can function comfortably within the existing historical building and this sum could instead be allocated towards constructing new hospital infrastructure and diagnostics along with equipping our frontline workers with Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and better facilities.”

Proportionate reduction of 30 per cent in the expenditure budget (other than Salaries, Pensions and Central Sector Schemes) should be done for the Government of India as well. This 30 per cent (i.e. Rs 2.5 lakh crore per year approximately) can then be allocated towards establishing an economic safety net for migrant workers, labourers, farmers, MSMEs and those in the unorganised sector, wrote Sonia Gandhi

“All foreign visits including that of the President, the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, State Ministers and Bureaucrats must be put on hold in a similar fashion,” she said.

The Exceptions can be made in case of special emergency or exigencies in national interest to be cleared by the PM. This amount (which is around Rs 393 crore for just the Prime Minister and Union Cabinet’s trips in the last five years) can be utilised extensively in measures to combat Covid-19, Sonia Gandhi added.

She also targeted the PM CARES-fund and demanded that all money under ‘PM Cares’ fund should be transferred to ‘Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund’ (PM-NRF).

“This will ensure efficiency, transparency, accountability and audit in the manner in which these funds are allocated and spent. It seems like a waste of effort and resources to have and create two separate silos for the distribution of funds. I understand that Rs 3800 crore approximately are lying unutilised in the PM-NRF (at the end of FY2019). These funds, plus the amount in ‘PM-Cares’, can be utilised to ensure an immediate food security net for those at the very margins of society.” wrote Sonia Gandhi.

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Glenmark announces 400 mg ‘FabiFlu’ for COVID-19 treatment

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Glenmark Fabiflu

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, a research-led global pharmaceutical company, on Thursday announced that it is set to introduce a 400 mg version of oral antiviral – FabiFlu — for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in India.

It was the first Indian company to commercially launch an antiviral drug – Favipiravir with brand name FabiFlu – for the treatment COVID-19 patients. The company received marketing and manufacturing approval from the Drug Controller General of India and launched the product in the Indian market on June 20.

According to the company, the higher strength will improve patient compliance and experience, by effectively reducing the number of tablets that patients require per day.

Earlier, the 200 mg dosage of FabiFlu required patients to take 18 tablets on Day 1, followed by 8 tablets each day thereafter for a maximum of 14 days.

A higher pill burden has been associated with lower adherence to therapy, the latter affecting viral suppression and overall treatment outcomes. Reducing the pill burden has also been a demand from doctors and patients to enable adherence, the company said.

“With the new 400 mg version, patients will now have a more relaxed dosage regimen, with 9 tablets required on Day 1, and thereafter 2 tablets twice a day from Day 2 till end of the course,” Glenmark Pharmaceuticals added.

Explaining the significance of this development, Monika Tandon, Vice President and Head, Clinical Development of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited said, “The 200 mg dosage of FabiFlu was developed in line with global formulations of the drug Favipiravir, which had similar strength. The 400 mg version is a result of Glenmark’s own R&D efforts to improve treatment experience for patients in India.”

She added, “Being the first company to launch Favipiravir in India, we continue to innovate and seek new treatment options for Covid-19 patients. Introducing this higher strength of FabiFlu is in line with these efforts to ensure a smoother experience for patients, by reducing their daily pill burden.”

Glenmark has also commenced a Post Marketing Surveillance (PMS) study on FabiFlu to closely monitor the efficacy and safety of the drug in a large pool of patients prescribed with the oral antiviral Favipiravir, as part of an open label, multicentre, single arm study.

It is also conducting another Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of two antiviral drugs Favipiravir and Umifenovir as a combination therapy in moderate hospitalized adult Covid-19 patients in India.

The combination study which is called the FAITH trial is looking to enrol 158 hospitalized patients of moderate Covid-19 in India. Early treatment with combination therapy will be evaluated for safety and efficacy as it is emerging as an effective approach in shortening duration of virus shedding, facilitating early clinical cure and discharge of patients.

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As India inches towards 2 million cases, Harsh Vardhan says, coronavirus spread contained in country

Speaking at a virtual meeting of WHO’s Regional Director, South East Asia, with Health Ministers from the region, the health minister also alluded to efficacy of the govt’s containment strategy

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Harsh Vardhan

India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday asserted that the spread of coronavirus has been contained in the country, citing how half the total cases are from three states only and another 30 per cent from seven others.

His remarks come as the country is inching towards the grim mark of two million cases. It has already logged over 40,000 deaths and is recording more than 50,000 daily cases since the past few days.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of WHO’s Regional Director, South East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh with Health Ministers from the region on maintaining essential health services and public health programmes in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, Harsh Vardhan alluded to the efficacy of the government’s containment strategy.

“The strategy has been successful in that 50 per cent of the cases are from three states and 32 per cent of the rest are from seven states. The spread of the virus thus has been contained.”

The Minister said that the lockdown was effective in slowing down the rate of growth of cases and gave the government time to augment the health infrastructure and testing facilities.

“From one lab in January, India has 1,370 labs today. Indians anywhere can access a lab within three hours travel time. 33 of the 36 states and UTs (Union Territories) exceed WHO’s recommendation of testing 140 people per million per day.”

Harsh Vardhan also said that the country was “preparing for the pandemic as soon as China informed the World Health Organisation on January 7”, over three weeks before the first case emerged.

India had reported its first coronavirus case on January 30 when a student from Kerala, who was studying in China’s Wuhan University, came back to India and tested positive for the deadly virus.

Harsh Vardhan also stressed that earlier viral outbreaks like the Avian Influenza, H1N1, Zika and Nipah had provided institutional memory in designing containment and management strategies.

“India’s proactive and graded multi-level institutional response to Covid-19 made it possible to have very low cases per million and deaths per million in spite of having a high population density, and low fractional GDP spending, per capita doctor, and hospital bed availability as compared to other developed countries,” he contended.

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Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context

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World Health Organisation

Countries around the world are facing the challenge of increased demand for care of people with COVID-19, compounded by fear, misinformation and limitations on movement that disrupt the delivery of health care for all conditions.

Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context recommends practical actions that countries can take at national, subregional and local levels to reorganize and safely maintain access to high-quality, essential health services in the pandemic context. It also outlines sample indicators for monitoring essential health services, and describes considerations on when to stop and restart services as COVID-19 transmission recedes and surges.

This document expands on the content of pillar 9 of the COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plan, supersedes the earlier Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak, and complements the recently-released Community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended for decision-makers and managers at the national and subnational levels.

This is an update to COVID-19: Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak: Interim guidance, 25 March 2020 

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