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WHO to launch second Solidarity Trial for coronavirus vaccine

WHO has called for a stronger whole of society approach in the South-East Asia Region.

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Covid 19 Medicine

New Delhi, April 3 : The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Friday, said that it is soon going to launch a second protocol for the Solidarity Trial.

“WHO would soon be launching a second protocol for the Solidarity Trial that will help establish incidence and prevalence of infection and the future behaviour of the virus,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia said in a press statement.

At least three South-East Asia member countries, including India, Indonesia and Thailand have already signed up for the multi-country trial, which will compare the safety and effectiveness of four different drugs or drug combinations against COVID-19. The Regional Director commended countries in the Region for participating in the WHO Solidarity Trial.

On Thursday, the World Health Organisation chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told media at a press conference “The Solidarity trial, which is assessing potential treatments for COVID-19, has already brought in 74 countries, which have either joined the trial or are in the process of joining,” adding more than 200 patients have been randomly assigned to one of the study arms.

“It is a historic undertaking that will dramatically reduce the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs are effective in treating COVID-19. The more countries that join, the faster we will have the results. I urge all countries to sign up,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

The Regional Director held a virtual meeting with health ministers of the Region to review the challenges. Most countries highlighted the need for essential medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment for health workers and enhancing health systems capacities, specially to respond to community transmission.

According to the WHO, nearly 1.5 billion people – in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand together – are currently experiencing lockdowns. Supported by communities. “We should start to see the impact of these measures in the coming weeks. Simultaneously, this is also an opportunity for countries to enhance capacities of their health systems,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

The Regional Head, Dr Kherapal suggested that a more comprehensive approach is needed with communities. Most importantly, communities need to be engaged and empowered to take appropriate decisions and measures. “The onus must be on each one. At this stage, everyone needs to contribute to minimize health as well as socio-economic impact of the pandemic,” she said.

WHO has called for a stronger whole of society approach in the South-East Asia Region.

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India records highest single-day spike, surpasses China toll

India is currently in the fourth phase of lockdown which is till May 31. Cases spiked at record rate during the lockdown 4.0 that allowed much relaxation.

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Keralites Middle East Corona

New Delhi, May 29 : India on Friday not only recorded its largest jump in new cases as it added 7,466 new Covid patients in 24 hours, emerging as the ninth worst-hit country in the world by pandemic, but it also surpassed China’s toll of 4,638 so far as it recorded 4,706 deaths.

While China was the first country to report disease last December and recorded over 84,000 total cases so far, India that reported its first case in January end, now has 1,65,799 cases that is more than Turkey’s (1,60,979).

The only good news for India is that it has shown a 42.88 per cent recovery with 71,105 of the patients who contacted the disease being cured and sent back home. In the past one day, 175 deaths were also reported.

Delhi and Tamil Nadu showed jump of around 1,000 cases as Maharashtra continued to contribute a lion’s share, it was still the worst hit state that reported 59,546 cases so far. Tamil Nadu now has 19,372 and Delhi 16,281 cases.

Gujarat reported 15,562 cases, Rajasthan 8,067, Madhya Pradesh 7,453 and Uttar Pradesh 7,170.

Kerala which had almost flatten the curve, is witnessing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, there are now 1,088.

Number of cases have spiked in the North East, with Assam having 856 cases.

Other States and UTs have also reported steady increase and West Bengal now has 4,536 cases, Telangana (2,256), Punjab (2,158), Jammu and Kashmir (2,036), Bihar (3,296) and Andhra Pradesh(3,251).

India is currently in the fourth phase of lockdown which is till May 31. Cases spiked at record rate during the lockdown 4.0 that allowed much relaxation.

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Harsh Vardhan snubs AIIMS director Guleria’s prediction on Covid peak

Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) Director Dr Guleria on May 7 had said, “National and international both experts are analysing the data. Most of them have guessed that India will most likely see the peak in June or July.”

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Harsh Vardhan and Dr Randeep Guleria

New Delhi, May 28 : In what appears to be a snub to the prediction made by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria regarding COVID pandemic peak in the country, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said its “difficult” to make an assumption about “future scenarios of the disease”.

The Health Minister, in an exclusive interview with IANS, said that given the heterogeneous mathematical modeling based on varied assumptions and less information available about the virus, it was extremely difficult to make accurate predictions about future scenarios of the disease.

To a query by the IANS on when to expect the curve to flatten since AIIMS Director Guleria has said that the situation may worsen in the next two months, Harsh Vardhan clarified, “Right now, we have a steady curve. It has never shown any exponential rise.”

This seemingly public disagreement with Guleria is manifestation of the government’s apparent unhappiness with the AIIMS chief’s comment that sparked off fear psychosis amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in India.

The Minister added, “We are now trying to bend the curve downwards. The trajectory of the outbreak is decided by a number of factors such as pathogenicity and transmissibility of virus; availability of specific treatment or vaccine; as well as collective performance of all public health interventions undertaken to contain the outbreak such as testing and early case detection, isolation, quarantine, contact-tracing, optimum care of cases and surveillance.”

The Minister also said that COVID-19 is a new disease and the behaviour of this virus in the evolving outbreak is “unknown”. “We have isolated the virus and our scientists and epidemiologists are studying it with the help of gene sequencing. Not much data about the virus and the disease is available at the moment,” he said.

“Further as far as the issue of predictions of the further spread of the disease is concerned, let me tell you that I keep on hearing about one mathematical prediction model or the other. There are so many such models giving so many predictions round-the-clock that it is difficult to track them or justify them. But just like any mathematical model, these models are based on a number of assumptions and presumptions which may or may not match with real ground data because the data is still being generated each day and the disease has not matured across the world. Therefore, it beats me as to with so much uncertainties, whether it is possible to make accurate predictions about future scenarios of the disease,” said the minister.

Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) Director Dr Guleria on May 7 had said, “National and international both experts are analysing the data. Most of them have guessed that India will most likely see the peak in June or July.”

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Focus on migrants’ plight, don’t destabilise Maha govt: Priyanka Gandhi

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Priyanka Gandhi Election

New Delhi, May 28 : Accusing the government of doing politics during the coronavirus crisis, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday raised the plight of migrant workers, citing the example of a toddler trying to wake her dead mother at a railway station.

“The country is pained to see such visuals,” she said and asked the government to provide help to the needy.

She also accused the BJP of trying to “destabilize” the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress in the state, instead of helping it in its fight against Covid-19.

In a video conference with Congress workers and leaders under the ‘Speakup’ campaign, the Congress leader spoke about the poor, migrants, small businesses and the middle class.

“We are doing this to make the government understand the demands of the people,” said Priyanka Gandhi, who is also party in-charge of eatsern Uttar Pradesh.

She said the government should immediately deposit Rs 10,000 into the bank accounts of the needy, provide Rs 7,500 for six months to the needy families and provide jobs to those who have returned to their homes under MGNREGA for 200 days instead of 100 days.

“The government should also provide the MSMEs a financial package so that they are not pushed into debt,” she said.

Slamming the BJP-led Central and UP government, she said, “I urge the BJP leaders to avoid doing politics. It is time to stand united by sidelining the differences and help the people.”

On Uttar Pradesh government rejecting the Congress’ offer of providing 1,000 buses to transport the stranded migrant workers, she said, “The 12,000 buses of UP Roadways are running only on paper.”

The Congress leader had offered to provide 1,000 buses to transport the migrant workers in UP. However, the state government had rejected the offer after three days of standoff at the state borders.

Priyanka accused the BJP of trying to destabilize the Maharashtra government at a time the state is reporting a high number of Covid-19 cases. “Instead of providing help to the Maharashtra government, you (BJP) people are working against it to destabilize it,” she said.

Reminding the BJP, that all the political parties are indebted to people of the country even in their victories and in defeat. “With their humility people have supported everyone of us and today the people of the country are pained,” she said.

Highlighting the plight of migrant workers travelling back to their homes, Priyanka Gandhi said, “We have seen the visuals of a son pulling a cart carrying his parents, of a daughter taking her father 1,200 km away on a bicycle and of many people dying in Shramik Specials.

“These visuals — a child dying in the lap of his father and another child trying to wake up his dead mother on a railway platform — can make anyone cry. But you (BJP leaders) are silent and not helping the people.”

The demands raised by her are not political, she said.

The visuals of a toddler trying to wake her dead mother on a railway platform went viral on Wednesday. The woman had got down from the Ahmedabad-Katihar Shramik Special train at Muzaffarpur railway station in Bihar on Monday. According to railway officials, the woman was had prior ailment.

“Leave politics as the people who have supported you must get the support back from you in this tough time,” said Priyanka.

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