India reported only 27,000 new cases on Monday even as the Centre issued guidelines for the Covid-19 vaccination drive, which includes dosing 100-200 people in each session per day and monitoring them for 30 minutes after administering the shots. The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination on a real-time basis.
India’s now has just 3,52,586 active cases, comprising 3.57 per cent of the total caseload, the lowest after 149 days, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday. With 336 new fatalities, the death toll now stands at 1,43,355. This is the lowest single-day spike in deaths in around 6 months.
Meanwhile, Russia published fresh results from its trial of the Sputnik V vaccine based on new data, and said the shot was again found to be 91.4% effective in providing protection from Covid-19. The results are crucial for India, where the vaccine is being tested on humans in mid- to late-stage trials by Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Also, the biggest vaccination drive in American history got underway on Monday as health care workers started receiving Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
New York on Monday inoculated its first healthcare worker, an intensive care unit nurse in Queens, with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, marking a pivotal turn in the US effort to control the deadly virus. Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse, was given the vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York, an early epicenter of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, receiving applause on a livestream with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Lindsay said. “I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe.” Minutes after Lindsay’s injection, President Donald Trump sent a tweet: “First Vaccine Adminstered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
Russian coronavirus vaccine developers published fresh results from their trial of the Sputnik V vaccine on Monday based on new data, and said the shot had again been found to be 91.4% effective in providing protection from Covid-19. The results are crucial for India, where the vaccine is being tested on humans in mid- to late-stage trials by Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
More than 100,000 people have already been vaccinated against the disease as part of Russia’s mass inoculation programme, which began in September alongside a Moscow-based human trial of the shot. The new results are based on data from 22,714 participants in the trial, and were published after 78 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported among the group, researchers at the Gamaleya Institute said in a statement made on Monday with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is marketing the shot abroad.
Jitan Ram Manjhi tests positive for Covid-19
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has tested positive for COVID-19 following which Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) national executive meeting has been put off. According to a statement issued by HAM on Monday, its septuagenarian founding president was convalescing after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The party office, which has been set up by the Strand Road bungalow allotted to Manjhi in his capacity as an ex-CM, has also been shut down for a week, the statement said.
IIT-Madras campus has been placed under temporary lockdown after 104 students and staff members of the institution tested positive for coronavirus. The state health department and the IIT management are yet to identify the source of the outbreak.
As per local reports, the students had claimed there had been overcrowding in the hostel mess and that could have led the infection to spread. This is one of the biggest clusters that has emerged in Chennai after the state government permitted educational institutions to function from December 7.
In the last 10 days, 71 residents of IIT-Madras tested positive for Covid-19 and on Monday, 33 more were found to be infected. Addressing reporters in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said, “We have taken 447 samples till now. The positivity rate is around 20 per cent now. People need not panic, we are doing aggressive testing and trying to curb the spread”.
Manipur discontinues thermal screening of passengers entering by road
Nine months on, the Manipur government has discontinued thermal screening of passengers entering the state via its two national highways. The state had set up two screening points, one at Mao gate, bordering Nagaland and another at Jiribam, bordering Assam. Manipur health department said the decision to discontinue screening was to enable the department to give more emphasis on deploying manpower in Covid-19 hospitals and non-Covid healthcare facilities.
As many as 30 health officials have been withdrawn and would be deployed at Covid-19 centers or hospitals as per the requirement, the department said. Earlier, Principal Secretary (Health) Vumlunmang had also pointed out that the positivity rate was gradually declining in December. Manipur’s recovery rate stands at 90.92 per cent.
Increase testing in districts where case numbers high: HC to Delhi govt
The Delhi High Court on Monday told the AAP government to increase the number of COVID-19 tests in those districts of the national capital where the infection numbers are high. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad orally suggested to the Delhi government to find out in which districts of the city the infection numbers were increasing and said “we expect you to increase tests in those areas”.
The suggestion came during the brief hearing of a plea by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increase in the Covid-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results. As the matter could not be heard in detail due to paucity of time, the bench asked the Delhi government, represented by additional standing counsel Satyakam, to file a fresh status report within a week indicating the updated figures of tests carried out, district-wise infection numbers in the city and number of containment zones.
Five undergraduate medical seats have been earmarked for the children of deceased COVID-19 warriors in Puducherry in as many colleges across the country for 2020-21 under a central scheme, the union territory government said on Sunday.
The seats were reserved in Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi, MGMS Vardha (Maharashtra), NSCB Medical college Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), JLN Medical College (Ajmer) and GMC Haldwani (Uttarakhand), Health and Family Welfare Director S Mohan Kumar said.
(With inputs from PTI)