The United States and Mexico became the latest countries to grant emergency use approval of Pfizer Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, days after the first shot was administered in the United Kingdom. President Donald Trump said the vaccine would be administered in the US in less than 24 hours, marking what could be the beginning of the end of an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. Meanwhile, India’s trajectory of active cases continues to follow a steadily dipping path. The total active caseload has dropped below 3.6 lakh (3,59,819) on Saturday after 30,006 cases were reported in the last 24 hours.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
Economic indicators encouraging, have road map to deal with pandemic: PM Modi
Economic indicators have shown encouraging signs of recovery of the Indian economy post-pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said as he vowed to keep government controls to a bare minimum and encourage private capital.
In this time of pandemic, he said, the government has accorded highest priority to saving the lives of Indians and the way India has handled the crisis through concerted effort has surprised the world. Compared to February when the pandemic started, things have changed in December, he said, adding, there is a road map to deal with this now. “Even the economic indicators are encouraging,” he added.
Free COVID-19 vaccine for all in Kerala: CM Pinarayi Vijayan
COVID-19 vaccine will be made available free of cost to all people in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Saturday. “No one will be charged for the vaccine. This is the stand of the government,” he told reporters at Kannur.
Kerala is the latest to announce free of cost COVID-19 vaccine for its people. States, including Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, have already made a similar announcement.
US gives final go-ahead to Pfizer vaccine; Mexico approves too
Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to begin in the coming days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised an emergency rollout of what promises to be a strongly protective vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech.
Joining the US, Mexico, too, approved emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine, following authorization from health regulator Cofepris.
Initial doses are scarce and rationed as several countries scramble to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of a long, grim winter. It will take months of work to tamp down the coronavirus that has surged to catastrophic levels in recent weeks and already claimed 1.5 million lives globally.
So far, five countries–US, Mexico, Britain, Bahrain and Canada– have approved the Pfizer vaccine.
Australia scraps Covid vaccine that produced HIV false positives
Australia on Friday cancelled a roughly $750 million plan for a large order of a locally developed coronavirus vaccine after the inoculation produced false positive test results for HIV in some volunteers participating in a trial study.
Of the dozens of coronavirus vaccines being tested worldwide, the Australian one was the first to be abandoned. While its developers said the experimental vaccine had appeared to be safe and effective, the false positives risked undermining trust in the effort to vaccinate the public.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his government would compensate for the loss of 51 million doses it had planned to buy from the Australian consortium in part by increasing orders of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Novavax. The government has said it plans to begin inoculating citizens by March.
Google launches campaign to show accurate information around vaccine
Google has launched new information panels in Search to help offer users timely and accurate information on Covid-19 vaccines. Apart from information panels, the search giant will offer a list of authorized vaccines in your location. The move will not only help curb the misinformation, but will also provide a great convenience to users.
As the UK has already started releasing the Pfizer vaccine, Google will first show information around coronavirus vaccine in the UK. The search giant has promised that it will introduce the new features in other countries too, as and when they start to approve vaccines. “As other health authorities begin authorizing vaccines, we’ll introduce this new feature in more countries,” Karen DeSalvo, MD, M.P.H, Chief Health Officer, Google Health said in a blog.
Explained today: Face shields no match for sneeze droplets, scientists at work to improve them
The face shield is an intriguing part of healthcare workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE): Although it is meant to protect the face from airborne particles that may contain the novel coronavirus, it has a prominent opening at the bottom edge. Indeed, that is why medical staff often wear a mask beneath the shield. If someone wore a face shield but no mask, and if someone infected with Covid-19 sneezed in the vicinity, would the face shield offer enough protection on its own? We explain here