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Tencent lists 25k deaths, 1.54 lakh infections from coronavirus

The Wall Street Journal reported that the coronavirus numbers coming out of China are “fishy”.

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Taipei, Feb 6 : In what could be a serious cover-up regarding the actual death figures in the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company Tencent allegedly published “real” data on the novel coronavirus deaths, with briefly listing death toll as 24,589 — way too higher than 563 deaths China officially announced on Thursday.

According to a Taiwan News report, “Tencent… seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures”.

Tencent, on its webpage titled “Epidemic Situation Tracker,” showed confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China as standing at 154,023 — over 10 times the official figure given to the world on February 1.

It also listed the number of suspected cases as 79,808, four times the official figure.

“The number of cured cases was only 269, well below the official number that day of 300. Most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day”.

Once people noticed this, Tencent allegedly updated the numbers to reflect the government’s “official” numbers, according to the report.

“Netizens noticed that Tencent has on at least three occasions posted extremely high numbers, only to quickly lower them to government-approved statistics,” said the report.

Some people speculated a coding problem may be behind the real “internal” data but others believe that someone is actually trying to reveal the real numbers.

Tencent was yet to officially comment on these reports.

“According to multiple sources in Wuhan, many coronavirus patients are unable to receive treatment and die outside of hospitals.”

There have been multiple reports of Wuhan officials cremating deceased coronavirus victims before they could be added to the official death toll.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the coronavirus numbers coming out of China are “fishy”.

If the numbers from the alleged Tencent leak are accurate, it would put coronavirus’ mortality rate at almost 16 per cent. By comparison, SARS’ mortality rate was 9.6 per cent, reports CCN.

Caijing, an independent magazine based in Beijing that covers societal, political, and economic issues, has also claimed that the Communist Party of China (CCP) is underreporting the extent of the coronavirus outbreak.

Caijing’s article on Coronavirus that detailed how Wuhan officials are not reporting real figures was censored in China.

As of Thursday, the official death toll in China rose to 563, with 28,018 confirmed cases.

China’s civil aviation regulator on Thursday urged all the country’s airlines to maintain their international routes amid the coronavirus outbreak, that has killed 563 people in the Asian country so far.

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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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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