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Coronavirus highlights, Dec 16: Covaxin produces ‘robust immune response’; India’s active caseload declines

The number of active coronavirus cases continues to show a downward trend with the tally now at 3,32,002, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 16, 2020 10:11:22 pm
Nursing staff of Covid Jumbo Hospital in Pune staged a protest on Wednesday outside the hospital, demanding salaries promised during their joining. (Express photo by Ashish Kale)

Preparing the ground for Covid-19 vaccination, the Telangana government has started setting up the requisite infrastructure to inoculate about 80 lakh people initially, including frontline warriors. The government has initiated training programmes for almost 10,000 vaccinators, and storage facilities for the doses are being set up at strategic locations.

Meanwhile, the number of active coronavirus cases continues to show a downward trend with the tally now at 3,32,002, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

Globally, South Korea, one of the few countries in the world which registered early success against the spread of the coronavirus, is witnessing a resurgence of the pandemic. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA)reported 1,078 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Tuesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today

Telangana gears up to vaccinate 80 lakh people in first phase

Telangana is in the process of creating the required infrastructure for administering Covid-19 vaccine doses to about 80 lakh people in the first phase, once the preventive medicine is available for the state, PTI quoted government sources as saying.

“Even if one vaccinator administers 100 people a day, on an average 10,000 vaccinators can vaccinate 80 lakh people in eight or ten days,” a Health department official told PTI.

Vaccination will be done at all government health facilities such as primary health centers, district hospitals and teaching facilities, the official said.

Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine produces robust immune response

The Covid-19 vaccine being developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech has been found to be well tolerated with no serious adverse events and produced robust immune responses, interim findings from Phase I trials revealed.

The Hyderabad-based company, which is developing Covaxin in collaboration with National Institute of Virology, an ICMR institute in Pune, has started phase-III trials only recently, and is yet to enroll all the participants as per its design.

“Reactogenicity was absent in the majority of participants, with mild events. The majority of adverse events were mild and were resolved. One serious adverse event was reported, which was found to be unrelated to vaccination. All three vaccine formulations resulted in robust immune responses comparable to a panel of convalescent serum,” the interim study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found.

Tripura govt allots Rs 3.84 cr for Covid relief, disbursal after applications are filed

The Tripura government has released Rs 3.84 crore for its eight district magistrates to start handing compensation to families who have lost a loved one to Covid-19. The grant is part of a state scheme that will be in effect till December 31. However, the disbursal of funds hasn’t started as yet as applications for compensation are still being submitted.

In May, the BJP-ruled government revised the compensation package for Covid deaths from Rs 4 lakh, as was initially announced, to Rs 10 lakh. The revision came in the face of a significant spike in Covid cases in the state during the third phase of lockdown. Though the state hadn’t reported any fatalities at the time, the government announced tests for all frontline medical staff.

Announcing the revised compensation package, Chief Minister Biplab Deb had assured a sum of Rs 10 lakh each in the event of death of any frontline worker – doctors, nursing staff, health workers, paramedics, police personnel, journalists, sweepers, ICP staff, ASHA workers and those associated with the civil administration and line departments, as well as common citizens.

Chennai: Six students test Covid positive at Anna University; IIT-Madras’ tally reaches 191

At least eight residents of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the number of infected on the campus to 191. Meanwhile. six students at Anna University’s College of Engineering, Guindy campus, tested positive.  The institution decided to conduct tests after two students residing on the campus complained of fever.

Speaking to the reporters after inspecting the IIT campus, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan, said: “We have been telling this, again and again, not wearing masks could increase the risk of getting infected by the virus. While eating we need to remove masks and hence we should make sure we maintain social distancing. A few small mistakes can cause great danger. As I said yesterday, we will initiate action against the management, which failed to implement these things.”

Bed shortage looms as South Korea reports record new coronavirus cases

South Korea’s highest priority is securing more hospital beds to handle a record surge in coronavirus cases and blunt a corresponding spike in deaths, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA)reported 1,078 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Tuesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials disinfect as a precaution against the coronavirus in Incheon, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The latest number came three days after the daily tally topped 1,000 for the first time since South Korea confirmed its first coronavirus infection in January.

The KDCA also reported 12 more deaths, the second day of double-digit deaths after a record 13 the day before in a country that had kept overall cases and deaths relatively low through aggressive tracing and testing.

Cipla partners Premier Medical Corporation to launch rapid antigen kits in India

Drug major Cipla has partnered with Premier Medical Corporation Pvt Ltd for commercialisation of rapid antigen Covid-19 test kits in India, PTI reported.

“In this collaboration, Cipla will be responsible for the marketing and distribution of the Rapid Antigen Detection Test for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigen that will be manufactured by Premier Medical Corporation Pvt Ltd,” Cipla said in a regulatory filing.

‘Covid-19 pandemic wipes out 81 million jobs in Asia-Pacific in 2020’

The economic blow from coronavirus has wiped out 81 million jobs across Asia-Pacific this year, with women and young people disproportionately affected, according to the International Labour Organisation.

“Covid-19 has inflicted a hammer-blow on the region’s labor markets,” Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, the group’s regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement Tuesday. “Low levels of social security coverage and limited institutional capacity in many countries have made it difficult to help enterprises and workers back on their feet.”

Employment in Asia-Pacific showed a 4.2% decline compared with the pre-crisis trend, with the gap at 4.6% for women and 4% for men, the ILO said in a report. Young people have been especially affected by working-hour and job losses, the ILO said, with the youth share of employment losses three to 18 times higher than their share of total employment.

(with inputs from PTI)

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