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VP seeks expediting development of Covid vaccine for children

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Hyderabad, July 30. Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday urged the scientific fraternity to focus on expediting the development of Covid vaccine for children and for according priority to protection of children from the virus.

Naidu emphasized that the vaccination drive against Covid-19 should become a pan-India ‘Jan Andolan’ and appealed to the people to immunise themselves by taking the required doses of the vaccine.

Addressing scientists and staff of the Bharat Biotech International Ltd after a visit to its plant at Genome Valley in Hyderabad, he said that there is no room for vaccine hesitancy. He urged everyone to get vaccinated saying there is no other more powerful way to protect “ourselves and people around us”.

Commending the development of a nasal Covid vaccine as an important initiative, he said this can reduce vaccine hesitancy and improve the ease of administering.

Asserting that advantages of vaccination far outweigh the perceived drawbacks, Naidu said that this message should be driven home loud and clear to every nook and corner of the country. “It is now clear that vaccination is preventing hospitalisation and severe disease when infected,” he added.

Cautioning people against becoming complacent by the temporary decline in Covid-19 cases, he said: “Let us be responsible citizens and not behave in a careless manner by violating Covid protocols”. He appealed to the people to continue with masking, physical distancing and personal hygiene.

The Vice President also urged the leaders of various political parties and their followers to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. “It is the duty of each one of us to act responsibly. We cannot afford to invite the third wave,” he warned.

Observing that the constantly mutating virus poses unforeseen challenges and forces us to find solutions that will save lives and protect livelihoods, Naidu said that vaccine supplies must be stepped up rapidly and vaccines must be administered to all as quickly as possible.

He, however, expressed confidence that the immunization drive would pick up pace in the months ahead and said the government intends to vaccinate all eligible adults by the year-end.

Lauding the scientists at Bharat Biotech for developing an effective vaccine in a very short time frame, he said he appreciate the optimism and dynamism that Dr Krishna Ella and Dr Suchitra Ella have brought to this organisation.

Naidu said that a few other Indian companies have also raced against time to produce Covid-19 vaccines, while some more are in the pipeline.

Saying India has earned global appreciation as the “pharmacy of the world”, he said that it supplying over 50 per cent of vaccines and is the largest producer of generic drugs. Indian pharma firms are also supplying over 80 percent of the anti-retroviral drugs globally to combat AIDS.

He noted that India’s domestic pharmaceutical market, estimated at $42 billion in 2021, is likely to reach the $120-130 billion by 2030.

Expressing his happiness that Hyderabad has emerged as the hub for vaccines and bulk drugs, he said that he was pleased to note that it has also turned into a biotechnology hub with the Genome Valley driving growth in this sector.

He said that it was heartening that one of the recently-sanctioned Central Drug Laboratories has been located in Hyderabad.

The Vice President, who went around the facilities, complimented the company for contributing significantly towards immunisation programmes in India and abroad.

Telangana Home Minister, Mohammed Mahmood Ali, BBIL Chairman & Managing Director Krishna Ella, Joint Managing Director, Suchitra Ella, Director, Dr V. Krishna Mohan and the heads of various divisions of Bharat Biotech attended the event.

Covid-19

COVID-19 containment may derail if protocol is not followed, says Mansukh Mandaviya

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New Delhi: With the festive season approaching fast, COVID-19 containment can derail if they are not celebrated following protocols set by the Government.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has warned people on October 0, 2021 and exhorted 19 states to escalate their inoculation pace so that India can achieve administering 100 crore vaccine doses in the next few days. India has so far administered over 94 crore Covid vaccine doses.

Reviewing the progress of vaccination with principal secretaries and mission directors of the National Health Mission from all major states, the health minister underlined that administering 100 crore doses of COVID vaccine is the immediate milestone.

Mandaviya noted that if festivals, synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, are not observed as per COVID-19 guidelines, containment of COVID-19 can get derailed. “The two-pronged solution is to follow COVID-19 protocols very strictly and to speed up vaccination,” the minister said.

The minister cited results of experiments that pegged the number of first dose recipients not developing severe COVID-19 to be 96 per cent and further pointed out that the number increases to nearly 98 per cent for people who have taken both doses of the vaccine. Officials of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal took part in the meeting.

Observing that over eight crore balance vaccine doses are physically available with states, Mandaviya enquired about specific hurdles, if any, faced by them in increasing their pace of vaccination and vaccine coverage among the target population.

Many states are nearing saturation of coverage in urban areas and are catering to the floating population in the city. Labour and time-intensive door-to-door vaccination is being undertaken in some geographically aloof pockets where first dose coverage is nearing saturation.

Uttar Pradesh state that comparatively limited supply of Covaxin and its shorter span between the doses as a rate inhibiting factor.

“In consultation with the states, the minister exhorted each state to increase their target so that the administration of the last six crore doses for reaching the mark of 100 crore is achieved in the next few days,” the health ministry stated.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged all the state health administrators to be strict with observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour during festivities to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. He underlined the need to adhere to a detailed standard operating procedure issued through a ministry’s letter on September 21. It included no mass-gatherings in containment zones and in districts with over 5 per cent case positivity.

Gatherings with advance permissions and limited people to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5 per cent and below. Relaxations and restrictions to be imposed based on weekly case positivity.

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WHO set to vaccinate 40% population of every nation by yr end

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Geneva, Oct 8: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an initiative to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population of every country against Covid-19 by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022, by prioritising vaccine delivery to low-income countries, particularly those in Africa.

“Today, the WHO is launching the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022,” Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying at a press briefing here on Thursday.

“The strategy outlines the road we must all take together to achieve our targets of vaccinating 40 per cent of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70 percent by the middle of next year.”

According to Tedros, achieving these targets will require at least 11 billion vaccine doses, which is an allocation problem instead of a supply problem.

“With global vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, there is enough supply to achieve our targets, provided they are distributed equitably,” he said.

According to the WHO’s records, more than 6.4 billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, and almost one-third of the world’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

However, low-income countries have received less than half of one percent of the world’s vaccines.

In Africa, less than 5 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.

Earlier this year, the WHO had set a target for all countries to vaccinate 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September, but 56 countries didn’t make it.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who joined the WHO chief at the initiatve’s launch, said: “Vaccine inequality is the best ally of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But through dose sharing, swaps, technology transfers and other priority actions, it is possible to reduce deaths and minimize suffering, prevent health systems from being overwhelmed, resume social and economic activities, and reduce the risk of dangerous new variants.”

The UN chief also renewed his appeal to the G20 nations for help, adding that “their meeting later this month will be an opportunity to deliver”.

“I urge all global stakeholders to step up, mobilize their resources and turn this strategy into a reality,” he said.

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Global Covid-19 caseload tops 236.7 mn

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Washington, Oct 8: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 236.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.83 million and vaccinations soared to over 6.39 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Friday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and the total number number of vaccine doses administered stood at 236,730,066, 4,833,592 and 6,394,485,945, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 44,158,348 and 710,173, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 33,894,312 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (21,532,558), the UK (8,084,275), Russia (7,575,825), Turkey (7,357,306), France (7,142,387), Iran (5,674,083), Argentina (5,264,305), Spain (4,971,310), Colombia (4,967,524), Italy (4,692,274), Germany (4,295,876), Indonesia (4,224,487) and Mexico (3,699,621), the CSSE figures showed.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (599,810), India (449,856), Mexico (280,610), Russia (209,752), Peru (199,581), Indonesia (142,494), the UK (137,818), Italy (131,198), Colombia (126,517), Iran (122,012), France (117,845) and Argentina (115,416).

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