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PM Narendra Modi to address nation at 8 pm today

Yesterday, during their interaction with PM Modi, many chief ministers had reportedly asked for the nationwide lockdown to be extended.

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing the nation at 8 pm today, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said.

It is unclear what PM Modi’s address tonight will be about. The address to the nation comes a day after the prime minister held a video conference with all chief ministers over the nationwide lockdown, meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday, during their interaction with PM Modi, many chief ministers had reportedly asked for the nationwide lockdown to be extended.

Later, in a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) quoted PM Modi as saying: “I request you all to share with me by May 15, a broad strategy on how you each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular states. I want states to make a blue print on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown.”

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Preliminary trial success, Covid vax could be out by Dec: Bangladeshi scientist

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Dhaka : Claiming success in preliminary animal modelling trial of Covid-19 vaccine, Globe Biotech Limited has claimed to be the first company from Bangladesh to have a Covid-19 vaccine under development. It says it is aiming for a December 2020 availability of the vaccine in the market.

They received the result after conducting the preliminary trial on five rabbits from June 10 to June 28, says Dr Asif Mahmud, Assistant Manager and incharge of Research and Development, Globe Biotech Limited, in an exclusive interview to IANS.

Earlier, he led the team to claim success in preliminary trial for the vaccine in national capital Dhaka on Thursday afternoon.

Excerpts from the interview of scientist Dr Asif Mahmud

Q: Globe Biotech is a research company in Bangladesh. Is it a branch of any MNC in the world?

A: No, in fact, Globe Biotech Limited is a Biological Drug Discovery Company in operation in Bangladesh since 2015. The project was started by our CEO Kankon Nag and COO Dr Nazneen Sultana. We have prepared 18 bio similar. We are also working on our own Nobel drug. After completing the animal trials of 6 bio similar, we have applied for Ethical Approval through our PRO at the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in Dhaka. We have that ability and experience to invent a vaccine against this pandemic. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, after a Covid-19 patient was reported in Bangladesh on March 8, we shifted our focus to SARS-Cov2 and started 3 new projects. Number one — we will do kit development; number two — we will do vaccine development for the country; and in the last — the biological molecule development.

Q: Is the research by Globe Biotech independent? Or is your research done under the supervision of any other country?

A: Globe Biotech is researching independently. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, both of whom supervised the team from Canada. They are experienced in this matter. Dr Kankon was directly involved in the HIV vaccine project. He is using that experience here. We are conducting research under their direct supervision. A 12-member scientific group started research on March 18 under the leadership of both.

We have taken some 76 genome sequences under consideration, wherein we found that a sequence (numbered 614) has a mutation point that they have used for amino acid bonding.

Q: Which method did you follow for the research you are undertaking? And how do you make sure it will work to protect people from Covid-19?

A: We went for the SPR method for the tests. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is a phenomenon where electrons in the metal surface layer are excited by photons of incident light with a certain angle of incidence, and then propagated parallel to the metal surface. It is an optical technique utilised for detecting molecular interactions. Actually, we have set a vaccine target. We have analysed the sequences from all the databases we have worldwide, including the sequences in Bangladesh. We set the target by our analysis. We have modified that target according to our needs. We have set multiple targets.

We have placed multiple delivery systems in consideration.

By applying the delivery system we have done an animal trial on rabbits.

By this we have got a very good antibody titer. And those antibodies have shown strong binding affinity with our antigen. We have additional candidates, some of which we have presented to the press. But the company is yet to apply for a patent or any publication; and before the patent is ensured it would not disclose the data received from the trial. We have said that we need to convert the data from the preliminary animal trial into a regulated animal trial. That we will do within the next 6 to 8 weeks. Then we will apply for Ethical Approval.

Q: This 6 to 8 weeks period, to get proof of animal trial? Or, for trial on humans?

A: No, we have already got proof of antibody generation in the preliminary animal trial. Now, it needs to be converted to a regulated animal trial. Because, for human trial, we have to submit it to the regulatory body for Ethical Approval. Regulated trials will require some further characterisation. Then, we will apply for human trials.

Q: Did you inform about your research to the drug administration of the country?

A: Not yet. There is no role of the regulatory body now. When we do a regulated animal trial, of course, we go to the regulatory body.

Q: What are your expectations? When will the vaccine be released?

A: We have already formulated the regulated animal trial guidelines and the tests would be concluded within four to six weeks. Thereafter, the company will seek Ethical Approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in early September, when the data from the Regulated Animal Trial reaches us within 6 to 7 weeks.

And then, we will apply for market authorisation to the regulatory authority in December within three months after completing the phases 1, 2 and 3. If everything goes smoothly, we expect to be able to bring our vaccine to the market by December.

Q: If you get government support, do you think success for you can be faster or smoother?

A: Obviously! This will be the first discovery of this vaccine in Bangladesh. The first task always comes with more obstacles and hindrances. We will remove the obstacles with the support of the government and will bring the vaccine to the market in due course.

(Sumi Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

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Maharashtra sees respite as daily Covid tally goes back under 7K mark

Sunday’s figures mean roughly one death recorded every 10 minutes and a staggering 273 new cases notched every hour in the state.

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Mumbai, July 5 : Maharashtra’s Covid-19 situation improved a bit with the state recording 6,555 new cases – down from Satuday”s highest of 7,074 cases – and fatalities dropped sharply to 151 from 295 a day earlier, health officials said here on Sunday.

With Sunday’s fatalities, the state death toll climbed to 8,822 and total cases zoomed to 206,619 till date, both being the highest in the country.

At the current number of cases, Maharashtra has overtaken Germany which ranks 15 on the Worldometer with 197,418 patients. In June, the state had recorded more daily patients than the UK, and overtaken Canada and France in terms of total patients.

Sunday’s figures mean roughly one death recorded every 10 minutes and a staggering 273 new cases notched every hour in the state.

The recovery rate in the state inched up to 54.08 per cent, while the mortality rate stood at 4.27 percent.

July has seen three-digit deaths and over 6,000 cases daily.

The Health Department said of the total number of cases, 86,040 are active cases.

On the positive side, 3,658 fully cured patients returned home on Sunday, taking the number of those discharged to 111,740.

Of the 151 fatalities, Mumbai alone notched 69 – pulling up the city death toll to 4,899 now, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients shot up by 1,287 cases to touch 84,524.

There were 31 deaths in Pune, 16 in Thane, 11 in Aurangabad, 10 in Jalgaon, four each in Palghar, Dhule and Solapur, and two in Nashik.

Given the grim situation in Thane, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has launched a tour of some of the worst-hit towns in the district and called for more tests, ventilators, ICU beds, and other facilities to curb the Covid cases and fatalities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The MMR (Thane division) continues to be tense as deaths and cases continue to pile up, with a total of 6,401 Covid-19 fatalities and a whopping 3,941 new patients pushing up the number of positive cases to 145,769.

Thane cases have shot up to 47,935 with 1,270 fatalities – to emerge as the second worst-hit district after Mumbai in the state. on Saturday, Thane had recorded its highest ever 179 cases, outstripping the Mumbai toll for the first time since the pandemic outbreak.

Pune district comes third with 28,142 patients and 872 deaths till now.

The Pune division (comprising Pune, Solapur and Satara districts) remains behind Thane and the MMR with 32,693 patients and 1,216 fatalities.

The next major region of concern is Nashik division with 589 fatalities and 11,477 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad division with 323 deaths and 7,709 cases, and Akola division with 143 fatalities and 3,128 cases.

Kolhapur division has notched 55 deaths and 2,308 patients, latur Division had 51 fatalities and 1,225 cases, and finally, Nagpur division recorded 19 deaths and 2,177 cases.

Among the eight divisions in the state, as many as four – Kolhapur, Latur, Akola and Nagpur – recorded zero fatalities on Sunday, though there were new cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 604,463 now, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 46,062.

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Gujarat’s Covid tally crosses 36K with new high of 725 cases

There are 2,68,170 people quarantined in the state – 2,65,096 at home and 3,074 in government facilities.

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Gandhinagar, July 5 : Gujarat on Sunday saw a new high of 725 coronavirus cases, taking its tally over the 36,000 mark to 36,123, while the death toll is getting close to the 2,000 mark.

In the last nine days, Gujarat recorded over 600 Covid-19 cases daily, to post a staggering 5,965 cases in this period.

Meanwhile, of the new cases, Ahmedabad”s count of 177 was way behind Surat, which saw its highest daily spike of 254. The Diamond City is now emerging as the new hotspot for coronavirus in the state, with Ahmedabad”s cases now showing a declining trend.

Ahmedabad was followed by Vadodara with 64, Rajkot with 42, Valsad with 18, Bhavnagar with 16, Bharuch with 15, Junagadh with 13, Kheda with 12, Patan and Gandhinagar with 11 each, Mahesana, Surendranagar and Tapi with nine each, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Dahod with eight each, Jamnagar and Panchmahals with six each, Aravalli and Morbi with five each, Gir-Somnath with four, Mahisagar, Botad and Navsari with three each, Kutch with two and Narmada, Chotta Udepur, Amreli and Devbhumi Dwarka with one each.

The state saw 18 deaths on Sunday, where Ahmedabad accounting for half of them, while six died in Surat and one each in Jamnagar, Gandhinagar and Kheda.

With this, the death toll has reached 1,945, with 1,487 of the fatalities in Ahmedabad only. As many as 183 have died in Surat, 53 in Vadodara, 32 in Gandhinagar, 18 in Aravalli, 17 in Patan, 16 in Panchmahals, 13 each in Bhavnagar, Anand and Mahesana, 12 in Rajkot, 11 each in Banaskantha and Kheda and 10 in Bharuch.

At 5.39 per cent, Gujarat has one of the highest mortality rates for corona in the country.

On Sunday, the health authorities carried out highest number of RT-PCR tests, at 7,770, taking the total number of tests to 4,12,124.

A total of 486 patients were discharged on Sunday, taking the total to 25,900.

The state presently has 8,278 active cases, out of which the condition of 8,206 is stable, while 72 critical patients are still on ventilator.

There are 2,68,170 people quarantined in the state – 2,65,096 at home and 3,074 in government facilities.

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