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Plasma Therapy May Be Removed From Covid Treatment Guideline

At a Health Ministry briefing, Indian Council Of Medical Research chief Dr Balram Bhargava said plasma therapy may be removed from national guideline on coronavirus treatment.

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Plasma therapy

New Delhi: Convalescent plasma therapy may be removed from the national guideline on treatment of coronavirus, chief of India’s top medical research body ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava said at a Health Ministry briefing today.

“We have had discussions it (use of plasma therapy) at the national taskforce-level… more or less we are reaching towards that,” ICMR Director General Dr Balram said in response to a question on continued use of plasma therapy (CPT) despite an ICMR trial showing it does not reduce mortality or slow the progression of COVID-19.

“The world’s largest trial on plasma therapy was done in India on 464 patients in 39 hospitals with more than 350 authors. This paper has been accepted for inclusion in the British Medical Journal and it will soon appear as a full paper on the role of plasma therapy on COVID-19,” he said.

Reiterating that there was no scope of “letting our guard down” even though the coronavirus peak has passed in India and Covid may “almost end by February”, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said “experts have said cases will spike again if precautions are not followed”.

“All precautions should continue even when we have a vaccine”, Dr Balram said indicating that the fight against COVID-19 would have to be fought for a long time even after India starts inoculating its 1.3 billion-strong population.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had recently said India would have a coronavirus vaccine early next year, and there were several front-runners.

“We have come up with a Draft Prioritisation Programme (for vaccination)…tried to match numbers under it to the number of doses that would become available from tentatively January to July. If present trials proceed according to plan then the number of doses will be sufficient to immunize those on priority list,” the Health Secretary Bhushan said.

He added that it will not be mandatory to “have a digital health ID” to get inoculated, a day after PM Narendra Modi said such IDs would be given to all citizens.

“Our current National Digital Health Mission does not have digital IDs for everyone. Multiple types of IDs will be valid for getting vaccinated,” he said.

Questioned about efforts to contain Covid in Bihar, where huge political rallies are being held Bihar without social distancing in contravention of government rules, Mr Bhushan said it was a “political matter”.

“We are regularly sending central teams. They will monitor the situation and ensure that infection does not spread and (Covid safety) rules are followed,” he said.

Mr Bhushan further shared data on the increase in number of ICU and ventilator beds since April. While ICU beds in India increased from 23,815 to 77,316, ventilator beds increased from 11,993 to 39,527.

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‘India should begin scaling up syringe supplies for Covid vaccination’

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF also recommended that auto-disabled syringes be used for administering vaccines — particularly in mass immunisation programmes.

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New Delhi, Dec 5: With the Union government focusing on early availability of coronavirus vaccine, experts on Saturday stressed that India should immediately scale up syringe supplies to deal with the vast number of inoculations required to control the pandemic.

The experts said that as India gets ready for Covid-19 vaccine, the government should be well-equipped with a secured stock of syringes in advance.

According to Rajiv Nath, Managing Director of Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd, the estimated demand in India would be around 900 million pieces of different kinds of syringes for just one shot of the vaccine, considering 60-70 per cent of the country gets vaccinated.

“The number would amplify to 1.8 billion if the vaccine India chooses needs two shots,” Nath told IANS.

The experts have also focused on the role of auto-disabled syringes in the Covid-19 vaccine immunisation programme

“The focus has shifted to single-use disposable consumables from reuse consumables and especially a change has been seen in higher deployment of auto-disabled syringes even for curative injections,” Nath said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF also recommended that auto-disabled syringes be used for administering vaccines — particularly in mass immunisation programmes.

Moreover, the WHO has suggested the use of auto-disabled syringes to collect blood samples of Covid-19 patients, which in turn, helps to avoid the transmission of disease through healthcare equipment.

Speaking on the function of auto-disabled syringes and their role in the Covid-19 vaccine immunisation programme, Pavan Mocherla, Managing Director of Beckton Dickinson (BD) – India and South Asia, an American multinational medical technology company, told IANS: “Auto-disabled syringes are the ones that get disabled after a single use.”

Explaining the importance of implementing safe injection practices during the Covid-19 vaccine immunisation programme, Mocherla said that unsafe injection practices could lead to blood-borne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C. Thus, adherence to correct injection technique plays a vital role while managing the immunisation drive.

“It is critically important to make sure that the healthcare workers are supplied with the right injection devices that will ultimately be needed to deliver a vaccine to help support India’s 1.3 billion population,” he added.

According to the expert, it is also crucial that our nurses are introduced to guidelines like the implementation of latest technologies like auto-disable syringes and precautions to ensure safety for themselves as well as others.

“To protect the population from contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C while getting preventive vaccines, the Indian government has been adopting the use of single use auto-disabled syringes in its vaccination programmes from August 2005,” Mocherla noted.

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Haryana Minister Anil Vij, who was part of vaccine trial, tests positive for COVID-19

Vij, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, had volunteered to be part of the third phase trial of Covaxin, which started in Haryana on November 20. He was administered a trial dose. However, it’s not immediately clear whether he was administered the vaccine candidate during the trial or a placebo.

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Anil Vij

Haryana health minister Anil Vij said on Saturday he has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and has been admitted to a hospital.

“I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” he tweeted.

Vij, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, volunteered to be a part of the third phase trial of Covaxin, which started in Haryana on November 20. He was administered a trial dose.

However, it’s not immediately clear whether he was administered the vaccine candidate during the trial or a placebo.

Also, the antibodies against the infection build up only after a specific number of days pass after the second dose of the vaccine is taken, since it is a two-dose vaccine, according to a health ministry official who did not want to be named.

The official said this was not solely in the context of Vij, who got just one dose — of either the vaccine or a placebo.

Vij’s media coordinator, Vijender, Chauhan said the minister was in Chandigarh on Friday afternoon and had reported fatigue later. “He got tested himself today morning and the result is positive. The staff will be tested today itself,” Chauhan said.

Bharat Biotech had said that phase 3 trials would involve a total of 26,000 people and be conducted at 25 centres across the country. “After successful completion of the interim analysis from the phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech received Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) approval for phase 3 clinical trials in 26,000 participants in over 25 centres across India,” the company had said in a statement. This will be India’s first phase 3 efficacy study for a Covid-19 vaccine, and the largest such trial ever conducted in the country, the statement added.

According to top officials of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED) in Kolkata, the results of the phase-III trial of the indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine candidate, Covaxin, will be available in November 2021. The interim report may be available by May 2021 at the earliest, they added.

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This antiviral drug blocks Covid virus within 24 hrs: Study

The scientists infected ferrets with SARS-CoV-2, and initiated treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 when the animals started to shed virus from the nose.

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remdesivir antiviral drug

Treating novel coronavirus infection in ferrets with the antiviral drug Molnupiravir completely suppressed virus transmission among the mammals within 24 hours, reports a new study which may lead to a new therapeutic to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

The researchers, including those from the Georgia State University in the US, originally discovered that the drug — also known as MK-4482/EIDD-2801 — is potent against influenza viruses.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the scientists repurposed MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against the novel coronavirus, and used a ferret model to test the effect of the drug in halting virus spread.

“This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission. MK-4482/EIDD-2801 could be game-changing,” said Richard Plemper, a co-author of the study from Georgia State University.

Until mass vaccination is available, the scientists believe interrupting widespread community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is paramount to managing the pandemic.

“We noted early on that MK-4482/EIDD-2801 has broad-spectrum activity against respiratory RNA viruses and that treating infected animals by mouth with the drug lowers the amount of shed viral particles by several orders of magnitude, dramatically reducing transmission,” said Plemper. “These properties made MK-4482/EIDD-2801 a powerful candidate for pharmacologic control of Covid-19,” he added.

The scientists infected ferrets with SARS-CoV-2, and initiated treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 when the animals started to shed virus from the nose.

“When we co-housed those infected and then treated source animals with untreated contact ferrets in the same cage, none of the contacts became infected,” said Josef Wolf another co-author of the study. By comparison, all contacts of source ferrets that had received placebo became infected, the study noted.

If these ferret-based results translate to humans in further studies, the scientists believe Covid-19 patients treated with the drug could become non-infectious within 24 hours after the beginning of treatment.

They noted that the drug is currently in advanced phase II/III clinical trials against SARS-CoV-2 infection to check for its effectiveness in curbing the transmission of the virus.

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