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Russia receives renewed approval for COVID-19 vaccine trials in India: RDIF

A Phase III trial involving 40,000 participants is currently underway in Moscow, with 16,000 people having already received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine.

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Vaccine Covid

MOSCOW : The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd have received renewed approval to conduct late-stage clinical trials in India of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, the sovereign wealth fund said on Saturday.

Large-scale trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in India were first announced and then knocked back by Indian regulators, who said the scale of Phase I and II trials conducted in Russia earlier this year was too small, requesting that they be repeated.

Following a new agreement, India will now carry out an adaptive phase II and III human clinical trial involving 1,500 participants, RDIF, which is marketing the vaccine abroad, said on Saturday. Under the deal, Dr Reddy’s will conduct the clinical trials and, subject to approval, distribute the finished vaccine in India. RDIF will supply 100 million doses to Dr Reddy’s.

Russia, the first country to grant regulatory approval for a novel coronavirus vaccine, is also conducting Phase III trials of Sputnik V in Belarus, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. RDIF has reached agreements with Indian manufacturers to produce 300 million doses of the shot.

A Phase III trial involving 40,000 participants is currently underway in Moscow, with 16,000 people having already received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine.

Interim results are expected to be published in early November.

Indian regulators have agreed to incorporate data, provided by Russia on a weekly basis, from the Moscow trial, a source close to the deal told Reuters.

Russia has also reached an agreement with the biotechnology department of India’s Science and Technology Ministry to use its laboratories as a base for the Indian clinical trial, the source said.

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Air pollution ups COVID-19 deaths by 15% worldwide: Study

In a major global study, researchers have revealed that long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to 15 per cent of COVID-19 deaths worldwide

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Delhi Pollution

In a major global study, researchers have revealed that long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to 15 per cent of COVID-19 deaths worldwide.

According to the study, published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, in Europe the proportion was about 19 per cent, in North America it was 17 per cent, and in East Asia about 27 per cent.

“Since the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are increasing all the time, it’s not possible to give exact or final numbers of COVID-19 deaths per country that can be attributed to air pollution,” said study author Jos Lelieveld from Max Planck Institute in Germany.

“However, as an example, in the UK there have been over 44,000 coronavirus deaths and we estimate that the fraction attributable to air pollution is 14 per cent, meaning that more than 6,100 deaths could be attributed to air pollution,” Lelieveld added.

The researchers used epidemiological data from the previous US and Chinese studies of air pollution and COVID-19 and the SARS outbreak in 2003, supported by additional data from Italy.

They combined this with satellite data showing global exposure to polluting fine particles known as ‘particulate matter’ that is less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter (known as PM2.5) to create a model to calculate the fraction of coronavirus deaths that could be attributable to long-term exposure to PM2.5.

The results are based on epidemiological data collected up the third week in June 2020 and the researchers said that a comprehensive evaluation will need to follow after the pandemic has subsided.

Estimates for individual countries show, for example, that air pollution contributed to 29 per cent of coronavirus deaths in the Czech Republic, 27 per cent in China, 26 per cent in Germany, 22 per cent in Switzerland, 21 per cent in Belgium, 19 per cent in The Netherlands, 15 per cent in Italy and 14 per cent in the UK.

Referring to previous work that suggests that the fine particulates in air pollution may prolong the atmospheric lifetime of infectious viruses and help them to infect more people. Lelieveld said: “It’s likely that particulate matter plays a role in ‘super-spreading events’ by favouring transmission.”

According to the researchers, the particulate matter seems to increase the activity of a receptor on cell surfaces, called ACE-2, that is known to be involved in the way COVID-19 infects cells.

“So, we have a ‘double hit’: air pollution damages the lungs and increases the activity of ACE-2, which in turn leads to enhanced uptake of the virus by the lungs and probably by the blood vessels and the heart,” the authors wrote.

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Ramdas Athawale, Sunil Tatkare test COVID positive, go into isolation

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale and Nationalist Congress Party MP from Raigad Sunil Tatkare have tested positive for COVID-19, on Tuesday

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Ramdas Athawale

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale and Nationalist Congress Party MP from Raigad Sunil Tatkare have tested positive for COVID-19, on Tuesday.

Both leaders made the announcement through social media and appealed to all those who came in contact with them to undergo tests and exercise full precautions.

Athawale, 60, had attended a crowded function in Mumbai on Monday when actresses Payal Ghosh, Soni Kanishka, lawyer Nitin Satpute, realtor Yogesh Karkera and businessman Ankush Chaphekar, formally joined the Republican Party of India (A).

The father of Minister of State Aditi Tatkare, Sunil Tatkare, 65, assured that his health condition was fine but as a precaution, he has been admitted to a city hospital for treatment.

This week, there were other notables, including Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das who tested Covid positive and are under treatment.

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Lack of contact-tracing capacity driving coronavirus into ‘darkness’ – WHO

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Michael Ryan WHO

GENEVA : A lack of contact-tracing capacity in Europe, despite very high rates of positive tests, will drive the coronavirus further into the “darkness”, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert told an online briefing on Monday.

“We are seeing very, very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact-tracing, which is going to further drive the disease into darkness,” Mike Ryan said.

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