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Indian health experts take Russian Covid vaccine with pinch of salt

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COVID-19 Vaccine

New Delhi, Aug 11 : Cautiously welcoming the news of Russia registering the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, Indian health experts on Tuesday stressed that it would be too early to say if it is safe or not as the vaccine was tested on very few volunteers.

The clinical trials of the vaccine started on June 18 and included 38 volunteers.

The volunteers were divided into two main groups – one group consisted of 18 people and the other group had 20.

Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to register a Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defence Ministry.

According to Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, very little is known about this vaccine as it claims to help people build immunity against this novel virus.

“It is very early to measure its efficacy and safety,” he told IANS.

According to him, a lot of parameters like age, people with multiple co-morbidities, the possibility of allergic reactions and the likes will have to be monitored before the vaccine is mass-produced.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Praveen Gupta, Director and Head, Neurology at Fortis Memorial Research Institute at Gurugram, said: “The Russian vaccine based on an inanimate protein of adenovirus has been brought to market with very short term trials of very few volunteers”.

As a medical principle, before any vaccination is used for large-scale public use, “it is advisable in view of safety and adequate prevention of a communicable disease that proper and long-duration trials are conducted before the clinical use of the vaccine,” the doctor stressed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also raised concerns about the vaccine.

“It is too early to tell if it is safe or not. Maybe in two months, the efficacy of the vaccine will be determined,” said Gupta.

According to Dr Jyoti Mutta, Senior Consultant, Microbiology at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute in New Delhi, considering the pandemic and emergency-like situation all over the world, the Covid-19 vaccine from Russia has raised hopes.

“But safety and efficacy are important and we need to keep an eye on its upcoming results too,” Mutta told IANS.

“Every vaccine needs to pass all necessary trials and stages, and the significant results of any vaccine are seen in a minimum of one year with mass users but considering the situation everyone seems to be in a rush. We should be hopeful but wise as well,” she noted.

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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appears safe, shows signs of working in older adults – study

Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large Phase III trial, the final stage before seeking emergency authorization or approval.

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Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc’s MRNA.O coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a more complete picture of the vaccine’s safety in older adults, a group at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

The findings are reassuring because immunity tends to weaken with age, Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, said in a phone interview.

The study was an extension of Moderna’s Phase I safety trial, first conducted in individuals aged 18-55. It tested two doses of Moderna’s vaccine – 25 micrograms and 100 micrograms – in 40 adults aged 56 to 70 and 71 and older.

Overall, the team found that in older adults who received two injections of the 100 microgram dose 28 days apart, the vaccine produced immune responses roughly in line with those seen in younger adults.

Moderna is already testing the higher dose in a large Phase III trial, the final stage before seeking emergency authorization or approval.

Side effects, which included headache, fatigue, body aches, chills and injection site pain, were deemed mainly mild to moderate.

In at least two cases, however, volunteers had severe reactions.

One developed a grade three fever, which is classified as 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit (39°C) or above, after receiving the lower vaccine dose. Another developed fatigue so severe it temporarily prevented daily activities, Anderson said.

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Venkiah Naidu tests Covid-19 positive, in home quarantine

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, 71, announced on Tuesday evening that he has been tested positive for coronavirus. He told HT that he is doing fine and the initial tests show no major complications.

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Rajya Sabha VP Naidu

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, 71, announced on Tuesday evening that he has been tested positive for coronavirus.

In fact, Naidu addressed an annual healthcare virtual conference on ‘Post-COVID Healthcare World’ on Tuesday evening. Within minutes after he finished addressing the Covid programme, Naidu was informed about his Covid test results. According to officials, the vice president promptly undertook additional tests.

“The Vice President of India who underwent a routine Covid-19 test today morning has been tested positive. He is however, asymptomatic and in good health. He has been advised home quarantine. His wife Smt. Usha Naidu has been tested negative and is in self-isolation,” the vice president secretariat tweeted.

The Vice President is the top Indian functionary to be tested positive for covid so far. He had frequently chaired the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament that ran for ten days before getting adjourned on September 23 amid Covid concerns.

During the session, two union ministers – Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel – and at least 30 MPs tested positive for Covid-19, prompting the authorities to cut short the session.

Naidu’s aides maintained his initial report shows that lung has not been affected and that he has no visible complication.

Addressing the healthcare conference on Tuesday, Naidu had called upon people to adapt to the new normal amid pandemic and take maximum precautions and condemned the instances of stigma and discrimination against frontline warriors and Covid-19 patients.

Calling upon people to adapt to the culture of the new normal and take all the prescribed precautions seriously to fight Covid-19 pandemic, he said that it was highly critical for the people to act responsibly and support the multifarious efforts of the government and health professionals to break the transmission of the dreaded virus.

“We simply cannot allow complacency to set in and lower our guard,” he added.

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Delhi hospital doctors halt OPD services to protest assault

The doctors’ associations are furious that the FIR in the case was lodged in the name of an individual rather than the institution, which allegedly goes against the directions of the Delhi and central governments.

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Safdarjung Hospital Delhi

New Delhi, Sep 29 : Barring emergency cases, the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of Delhi government’s Maharishi Valmiki Hospital on Tuesday announced all essential and non-essential services provided by its members had been withdrawn to protest against an assault on a doctor.

The RDA said it protested the hospital administration’s action not to lodge an institutional FIR against a patient and her attendant for assaulting an on-duty doctor on Saturday.

The RDA formally informed the hospital Medical Superintendent about the protest through a notice.

The notice read: “Since no confirmation has been made till date, we are left with no alternative but to withdraw resident doctors from essential services from 10 a.m. today, for which intimation was given to you on September 26 and again on September 28.”

“We are disheartened by the way this issue is being handled. The doctor concerned is under severe mental stress, and things may worsen for him if he doesn’t get institutional support on priority,” it said.

“Who will be responsible if something goes wrong with the resident doctor? We don’t want the patients to suffer and want to resume duties at the earliest, but not at the cost of threat to our lives, integrity, and respect towards the profession,” the RDA warned.

Meanwhile, RDAs of various government hospitals also expressed their solidarity with the victim doctor. The RDAs of Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Baba Sahib Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital extended support to the protest by the doctors and also the demand to lodge an institutional FIR in the case of assault.

“We condemn the assault, extend our deepest support and stand unanimously and in solidarity with the protesting Resident Doctors Association of Maharishi Valmiki Hospital and demand immediate appropriate action by the authorities against the accused,” the RDAs said.

The doctors’ associations are furious that the FIR in the case was lodged in the name of an individual rather than the institution, which allegedly goes against the directions of the Delhi and central governments.

On Saturday, Dr Rahul Jain was allegedly assaulted by a patient, identified as Priyanka, and her attendant Naresh when the doctor asked them to come by turn in the operation theatre. He had also asked them to wear masks.

Later, Dr Jain lodged an FIR against both at the Bawana police station under Sections 186, 188, 353, 332, 506 and 34 of the IPC and other relevant laws.

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