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National Green Tribunal officer tests Covid-19 positive

“All high-risk contacts shall be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The NGT premises shall remain under deep sanitisation and with effect from May 23, no officer, staff, lawyers, litigants, and public shall be permitted,”

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New Delhi, May 22 : The National Green Tribunal on Friday said that one of its officials has turned out to be Covid-19 positive and all his contacts have been asked to self-quarantine for 14-days.

A circular issued by NGT Registrar General Ashu Garg read: “It is notified for all concerned that one of the Officers posted in General Administration section (Principal Bench) has been found Corona positive.”

The official had last attended the office on May 19 and is presently hospitalised. The notification further added that all necessary protocols are being followed and contact tracing is in progress.

“All high-risk contacts shall be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The NGT premises shall remain under deep sanitisation and with effect from May 23, no officer, staff, lawyers, litigants, and public shall be permitted,” the circular added.

The tribunal said that further decision in this regard will be taken as per advice of health authorities on May 25.

Disaster

Indian-origin scientists find novel way to treat severe Covid-19

The observational study included 255 Covid-19 patients being treated with IL6ri during stage IIB (149 patients) and stage III (106 patients) of the disease.

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Coronavirus Treatment

New York, Aug 5 : A team of Indian-origin researchers has found that patients experiencing severe Covid-19 symptoms had improved outcomes when administered an Interleukin-6 (IL6ri) inhibitor, sarilumab or tocilizumab — used in treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other several inflammatory conditions.

The treatment was more effective when administered earlier in the disease course, reducing mortality rate and the need for intubation.

Published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the results showed that Interleukin-6 inhibitors appear to be a more effective treatment method as compared to other options, including remedesvir and dexamethasone, which are recommended and are being currently used to check the pandemic.

“At a time when treatments are being tested with urgency amid the Covid-19 pandemic, our study results offer some hope towards finding solutions to better treat patients infected by this disease,” said study researcher Manish Sagar from the Boston University in the US.

According to the study, elevated IL-6 levels may mediate the severe systemic inflammatory responses that occur in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome or Covid-19 infection.

The observational study included 255 Covid-19 patients being treated with IL6ri during stage IIB (149 patients) and stage III (106 patients) of the disease.

Once an appropriate patient was identified, he/she was given IL6ri (sarilumab or tocilizumab) based on iteratively reviewed guidelines.

The IL6ri was initially reserved for critically-ill patients, but after review, the treatment was liberalised for patients with lower oxygen requirements.

The IL6ri recipients had considerably higher supplementary oxygen requirements, indicating more advanced disease than patients in previous remdesivir and dexamethasone trials, and would have been expected to have a higher mortality rate.

The study’s sampling-with-replacement analysis found that the patients who received IL6ri had a lower mortality rate than patients in the intervention and control groups of remdesivir and dexamethasone trials.

The 22.9 per cent mortality rate for the 105 Boston Medical Center patients that required ICU care (41.1 per cent) was considerably lower than previously published 45-50 per cent mortality in other ICU studies.

“The greatest benefit of IL6ri use was seen in patients who received the drug in an earlier stage, prior to critical respiratory decompensation, showing the importance of prompt testing and treatment,” said study researcher Pranay Sinha.

“We hope these findings can help guide physicians as we seek solutions to reduce mortality, increase extubation, reduce the length of stay in the hospital, and have more patients discharged from the hospital alive,” Sinha added.

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Zenara Pharma gets approval to manufacture, sell Favipiravir

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Hyderabad, Aug 5 : Hyderabad-based Zenara Pharma on Wednesday announced that it has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to manufacture and sell Favipiravir tablets as a treatment option for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19.

The tablet, which will be sold under the brand name ‘Favizen’, is being manufactured at Zenara’s US FDA approved state-of-the-art facility in Hyderabad.

Zenara Pharma, a fully-owned subsidiary of Biophore India Pharmaceuticals, is in talks with multiple state institutions and several hospitals in India to ensure that Favizen is readily available for the patients in need.

“Given the ongoing pandemic, it has become extremely critical for pharmaceutical companies to quickly provide safe and effective treatment options to the patients with Covid-19. I am proud to say that we have our own in-house API and are not dependent on any imports for the production.

“We believe that this will ensure stability and rapid production and availability of this treatment for the Indian market. We are also in talks with various institutions to make the tablets available at discounted or no cost to underprivileged patients,” said Jagadeesh Babu Rangisetty, Co-founder and Managing Director, Zenara Pharma.

The company said that it has the manufacturing and distribution capabilities to improve access to this treatment around the world and has already begun exports to the Middle East and Latin American countries.

Favipiravir has demonstrated positive clinical outcomes in some trials and has already been approved for use to treat Covid-19 in Russia and parts of the Middle East. Advance stage trials are currently underway in several countries, including India.

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Disaster

India’s Covid-19 testing rate lower than other nations, says WHO Chief Scientist

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

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Soumya Swaminathan

Noting that lockdown was a temporary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, a senior official of the World Health Organisation on Tuesday said India has a low testing rate when compared to some of the countries that are successfully trying to curb it.

The Chief Scientist of WHO, Soumya Swaminathan, in an interactive session through video conference said,as of now about 28 vaccine candidates for Covid-19 are under clinical trial, of which five are entering Phase-II and over 150 candidates are in pre-clinical trials across the globe.

“India as a whole, the testing rates are much lower compared to some of the countries, who have done well like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan.

Even the United States is testing a huge number of people. So we need to have some benchmark and every public health department needs to have benchmarks on what is the rate of testing per lakh or per million, what is the test positivity rate,” she said.

Without adequate number of tests, fighting the virus is like “fighting fire blindfolded,” she pointed out.

According to Swaminathan, the number of tests being conducted is not adequate if the Covid-19 test positivity rate is above five per cent.

Governments need to constantly monitor the availability of beds, quarantine facilities, ICUs and oxygen supplies in district hospitals.

“So there is a set of 8 to 10 indicators that the government needs to keep a close watch on. And you can ramp up or ramp down based on what you are seeing on the ground,” she said.

Observing that the scientists’ community was still studying the body’s immune response to coronavirus and the next 12 months were crucial to put in place the public health and social measures, she said the virus has spread to every country in the world and “established community transmission”.

“We know that lockdowns are temporary measures or a temporary measure which reduces the spread because it prevents people from getting closer together and the idea of the lockdown is to buy time for the government to put in place the system needed to tackle the virus,” the WHO official said.

On the ongoing vaccine trials, she said the WHO has issued guidelines on it and if the efficacy rate of the vaccine is 70 percent, then it is considered to be a good one.

On the COVAX facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, Swaminathan said by the end of 2021 it is aimed to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification.

All the 194 member countries of the WHO need to come together and take a decision on the way they want to proceed for the equitable and fair distribution of vaccine (once successfully comes out) and other products that are being developed for Covid-19, she opined.

Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, which is into developing Covaxin, a vaccine candidate for Covid-19,said the Centre needs to decetralise some of the regulating authorities such as Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO for faster approvals.

Telangana Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao acted as a moderator for the session titled The Vaccine Race- Balancing Science and Urgency.

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