With 29,398 new cases on Friday, India’s total Covid-19 active caseload dropped to 3.63 lakh, the lowest in 146 days. The difference in the new recoveries outnumbering new cases has also improved the national recovery rate to 94.84 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the United States is expected to provide emergency use approval for Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid vaccine after an advisory panel recommended for the same to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Elsewhere, Egypt has received its first shipment of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, which was tested in the United Arab Emirates and is said to be 86% effective. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has already begun vaccinating people with the Pfizer shot.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
Punjab extends night curfew till Jan 1; BMC wants the same in Mumbai
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered the extension of night curfew in the state till January 1, 2021 across the state. He also extended curbs on the number of people at gatherings until New Year. Directives have been issued to the Punjab police to ensure strict compliance by people in the state, especially in marriage halls.
Taking note of night clubs operating till late night in violation of the Epidemic Act and the Covid-19 guidelines, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has also requested Maharashtra government to impose night curfew in Mumbai.
However, the state government has asked BMC to wait till Christmas when the situation will be reviewed.
US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer Covid vaccine
A US government advisory panel has endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.
Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the FDA signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation. According to The New York Times, the FDA is likely to provide an emergency use approval for this vaccine on Saturday.
In a 17-4 vote with one abstention, the government advisers Thursday concluded that the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and older.
Australia halts local Covid vaccine development
Australia cancelled the production of a locally made vaccine against the novel coronavirus after trials showed it could interfere with HIV diagnosis, with the government instead securing additional doses of rival vaccines.
Antibodies generated by the vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and biotech firm CSL, one of four candidates contracted by the Australian government, were found to lead to some false positive HIV test results, the makers said.
While the vaccine had elicited a “robust” immune response to the novel SARS-COV-2 virus without serious adverse effects in a Phase 1 trial with 216 participants, re-engineering a fix could take another 12 months, they said. READ FULL STORY HERE
Vaccine hopes boost Asian shares
Asian shares bounced back on Friday as progress on Covid vaccines boosted investor sentiment, but tricky Brexit negotiations and US stimulus talks capped gains in riskier assets. Investors bet on stronger economic growth next year as more countries prepare for vaccinations. US authorities voted overwhelmingly to endorse emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine while doses of a Covid vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech SVA.O are rolling off a Brazilian production line.
US stocks were mixed as near-term US fiscal stimulus appeared unlikely after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested wrangling over a spending package and coronavirus aid could drag on through Christmas.
Explained today: For masks, clothes, wipes, a material that kills coronavirus when exposed to UV light
Although disinfectants such as bleach or alcohol are effective against the novel coronavirus, they are corrosive. In a new study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, researchers from the University of New Mexico have presented an alternative — certain materials that, when combined with ultraviolet light, can almost completely kill the virus.
These materials consist of polymers and molecules known as oligomers. When activated with UV light, they provide a coating that the research showed to be fast-acting and highly effective, reducing the concentration of the virus by five orders of magnitude. We explain it here